If You're Thinking of Freelancing
Freelancing is the new dream for many members of the work force today. Everyone seems to want to quit his day job, ditch his life behind the desk at the office, and break free of the boss's power. Everyone seems to want to be his own boss.
And why not?
The prospect of waking up whenever you feel like it, working whenever you feel motivated, taking breaks whenever the urge arises, and not dressing up to work - all of these things, and perhaps more, are enough to entice anyone who has to commute to the office day in and day out.
But is this the reality of freelancing and working from home? Is there really that much freedom and less responsibility?
Don't get me wrong. If you are thinking of going freelance, you are facing one of the most life changing decision you will ever face. If you do go freelance eventually, you might find that it is the perfect setup for you. Or you may find yourself in a living nightmare.
Having been working from home for more than five years now, I can tell you one thing: freelancing is wonderful, but it is not without responsibility. It is not for everyone.
This leaf is about the three things I think everyone should be absolutely certain of before jumping into the deep waters of freelancing. Take a look before making the decision? I hope it helps you!
Image via akeg on Flickr
Can you work without a person in uniform and boots cracking a whip behind you?
This may very well be the toughest requirement for working at home. I know people who are some of the most disciplined office workers, but when they tried working from home, things suddenly changed. It was as if they had no discipline at all!
It's not necessarily a blight on one's character or work ethic when this happens. It's simply due to the fact that working from home as a freelancer means that you have to manage your own time, and if you think that is easy, you might want to think again.
Working from home is a whole new world, especially if you have been working in an office environment for a while. Yes, there is freedom. Lots of it, in fact, but there is also the thing called "accountability" and while that is a noble concept, it is hard to put into practice if you do not have your boss or your co-workers physically around to help you get working.
Then there are the distractions. TV, the Internet, kids (if you have them), your partner, the dog/s, the cat/s, the sudden urge to go shopping, jogging, walking...the list goes on and on and one.
Bottom line: self-discipline is a must to succeed in freelancing. You need to be able to get things done without caving in to the incessant plethora of distractions.
Bed, couch, or lounge chair?
Every freelancer will tell you that he has his preferred workplace at home. It does not matter if he is a writer, a designer, a coder, etc. They all need a space to work in, and this space has to be conducive to working.
Now, conducive can be such a relative thing. My partner, who also works from home, will not get things done the way he wants if he does not sit at the table. It does not matter that the bedroom is more comfortable. The table is where work gets done for him.
On the other hand, I get more done in bed. I like propping up two pillows - okay, three or four is more like it - against the wall and settling in for the entire day. I also like having some music in the background to help me get my rhythm.
I know some people who camp out at coffee shops to get work done. Never mind that there is constant foot traffic. That's where they are most productive. While that works for me now and then, I still do my best work in bed.
Do you see my point?
Different people will have different needs and preferences for working. Whatever that may be for you, the critical thing is that you are sure that you will have access to that conducive workplace no matter what.
Image via jeremyfoo on Flickr
Can you talk yourself into doing things?
This "requirement" is very closely related to the first one: self-discipline. However, I think that there are slight differences. Let me expound.
Say you are disciplined to the extent that you have a to-do list which you follow. Okay, maybe you slip up now and then, but you eventually get things done. You even rely on Google Calendar to get through the day. You have a routine (more or less) that ensures you take care of your work tasks.
Suddenly, in the middle of your day, you get bad news. Let's say it's of the personal kind (but it could also be of a professional nature; it doesn't really matter). How do you react? What do you do? How does it affect the rest of your work day?
You might have all sorts of positive, go-getter answers popping into your head right now, but let me tell you, this can occur more than you think when you go freelance. Actually, even the slightest disturbance (such as your microwave oven acting up so you can't have what you want for lunch) can get you so distracted that you do not feel like working anymore.
What to do then?
This is where the ability to motivate yourself is crucial. You probably won't have people praising you and egging you on for the work that you do. In fact, the only sound you might hear is the deadline swooshing by. That, or the ranting of a client who wants the work done...yesterday.
It's not that bad, actually. I am just exaggerating to emphasize this point. You do not have to be as perky as a cheerleader all the time. It's all about the mindset. If you think you can motivate yourself, even just enough to plod on through the day, you'll be good. But you have to have at least that.
Image via prc1333 on Flickr