My immediate answer to this headline of a question is….HELL YES! Sometimes I feel it’s more of a job than an in-office, 9-to-5 type of situation.
While it can easily be more work, being a freelancer is ultimately a great job. However, being a successful freelancer requires a lot of self-motivation, organization, and determination.
If you define a job as a paid position, where you work regular hours, I’m here to tell you it’s time to update your thinking. A job doesn’t have to pay you — volunteering can feel like work very quickly. A job doesn’t have to mean set working hours — freelancers work until the job gets done. A job really is a task of any kind, and by that maximum, I’m not just a freelancer, but one who works many jobs, every day…and most likely so are you.
The hours can be the worst
I’ll start with a negative, because freelancing is that one job where you have no set hours. You could work one week only in the mornings, you could spend the next at your desk into the wee hours of the night. It’s never consistent and totally dependent on the number of projects you take on. The best I can do is try to work within a set window, but I often find myself typing right up until dinner is on the table.
As a freelancer, you most likely work at home, so you never really leave the office. This makes it harder to keep ‘normal’ hours or even work a typical amount within a single day. But, with self-discipline, and a lot of organization, it’s possible to get a little more consistency in time on-the-job. It’s best to prepare for a few late nights though, as well as some days where you really sit in front of your computer all day long.
The flexibility can be the best
Even with your working hours being all over the place, the best part of having a job freelancing relates to time too. You get flexibility. I can take a few hours off in the middle of the day to chaperone a field trip for my kids. I can decide to go grocery shopping at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. It’s up to me to get the work done on time, but nobody is holding me to a set group of hours where I have to be ‘on.’
This flexibility is essential, I think, to freelancing since many of us aren’t doing this as a full-time gig. For me, it’s just one of my jobs. I’m also a housekeeper and stay-at-home mom for a few hours each day. Having the ability to give these jobs the right amount of attention, while still contributing to the professional realm, really works for me.
I don’t take for granted the flexibility freelancing offers me, even during those late nights up against a deadline.
You have to be self-motivated
A unique aspect of this job is how self-motivated you must be. Especially when you’re starting out as a freelancer, you have to motivate yourself to get up each day, get in front of your computer, and network. You are the only force putting you out there for opportunities. While you build a network of clients, there’s a lot of unsolicited work you have to do.
Then, once you get the jobs, you have to motivate yourself to get the work done. You won’t have a boss checking in how things are going, asking you about deadlines. It’s all up to you to deliver to your client on time.
I use a lot of lists, reminders, and calendar events to keep myself on track and stay motivated. I’m also not above taking a long lunch to help bring me back to work with a better attitude if I’m struggling with a project.
You have to be okay not getting paid
Another strange thing about the job of freelancing — you have to be okay with not getting paid. I’m not talking about how long it takes some clients to pay you, although that’s an issue sometimes too, I’m talking about dry spells with work. Freelancers only get paid when they’re working, and sometimes there just isn’t that much to do.
I have good months and bad months. I reach points where I start to get nervous and doubt I can really make this freelancing job work. But, then I dig in a little harder, and put more of myself out there. Things usually work themselves out. The key is to be okay with the drought so you can focus on how to remedy it.
Freelancing is as much a job as sitting in that cubicle
You can argue with me that freelancing isn’t a “real job,” but I’ll never believe you. I’ve done my stint in the cubicle, and I’ve spent the last few years working for myself. Both have been equally challenging, and equally rewarding. And no matter if I’m headed to an office or my at-home work space, I always say to whoever is listening, “I’m going to work.”