● By Mel Sim
Thinking of going out on your own? Read this first.
I’ve been a freelance writer for more than 10 years now and so I suppose it makes me quite the veteran to share my experience with you. My case is rather unique, I would say. I’ve only really worked in a proper full-time job for five years before deciding that being on my own would be the next best career move.
How did I end up making that decision? First, work wasn’t giving me the fulfilment I was seeking, and second, I was tired of making the kind of salary I was despite the amount of hours I was putting in. And so I quit, thinking that I needed a career reboot. The plan was to check out other roles in different industries and at the same time, freelance to get some income. One thing led to another and here I am, a full-time freelancer (that’s what I call myself anyway judging from the amount of hours I put in as a freelance writer).
It may sound fab to be your own boss, call your own shots, make your own deals. In some ways it is but there are also a lot more that goes on behind the scene. In case you’re wondering, I am not writing this article while sipping my cappuccino at my favourite coffee joint; I’m at home on my dining table with my lunch half uneaten and my coffee cold.
Which is what freelancing is about – there are the pros and the cons; the glamorous and the not so; the good and the not so good. So if you’re thinking of going freelance, whether as a writer or start your own company or whatever it is that you’re good at, read this first to get the real glimpse of what life as a freelancer is really about.
You get to focus on the one thing you really enjoy doing and are good at. For me, that’s writing and editing. I love what I do and I would like to think I’m good at it (or else I wouldn’t still be a freelancer after 10 years!). But it took me a long time to build my network and connections to get a steady amount of work – and even then, there are slow days too.
You can’t be choosy as a freelancer, especially when you are starting out. Because? Money. There will be days where you have to work with a client you don’t really like and do things you’re not keen on because there are bills to pay. My advice? Suck it up and remember why you’re in this the first place, that is to gain experience and to be your own boss.
Speaking of being your own boss, that’s the number one reason why many people decide to go freelance. If like me, you’re tired of putting in the hours but not making what you think you should be, then maybe freelancing is the way to go. One of the reasons I like being a freelancer is because how hard I worked equals to how much I make. It’s a simple equation: The harder I work, the more I get paid.
You may be willing to put in the hours and effort. Unfortunately, the market’s not great or work’s coming in slowly. The biggest worry for a freelancer is income – some days it’s good, some days it’s downright scary that you wonder if maybe you should go back to permanent employment. Remember this when you’re thinking of freelancing – are you good with your money that you know how to save for rainy days because there will be some stormy weather ahead as a freelancer.
What I really love about being a freelancer is being able to set my own schedule and time. Don’t feel like working today? Not a problem; I’ll just log off my computer and spend my day reading instead. I once took a year off from freelancing to live abroad and travel in Europe. That’s what being a master of your destiny is all about, right?
The only way I could have afforded that one-year sabbatical was because I worked day till night for a long time. Like 9am to 12am kinda schedule – weekends included. Be prepared that this may be something you’ll have to do as a freelancer, especially if you are juggling different clients with different deadlines and expectations. Sometimes, you’ll be working even harder than you were as a full-time employee.
No office politics. No office bureaucracy and red tape. No toxic colleagues. No bad bosses. No unnecessary work drama.
No EPF. No bonuses. No company trips. No annual dinners. No colleagues to have lunch with every day.
The point is this: Whether you are working full-time or freelancing, there will always be the pros and cons. Some days, the grass will be greener on the other side but whatever it is, make the best of your situation and give it your all. After all, circumstances change and you never know where it may lead you five years later!
Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash
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