If you’ve recently left a job for the free-life, I bet at least one person has said something like “you’re brave”.
This always amused me. If you leave a full time, salaried position to go trekking in some remote mountains, or to volunteer in a war zone – perhaps that’s brave. But exchanging a job for a life where you have more control and more fun? Surely not.
Let’s think about this. Many an article has been written about the changing face of the employee/employer relationship within organisations. I almost feel sorry for the HR folk. The rhetoric of employer brands and flexible working and employee benefits and so-called work-life balance simply fails to resonate with many employees these days. In reality, the downturn has led to many doing more hours, with more stress for less money.
That’s why the workforce thinks, “you’re brave”. Because they secretly wish they had the guts to go freelance too.
OK. I’m being deliberately provocative here. The freelance life is not for everyone, and for some, downright foolhardy. So what are the qualities of a successful freelance revolutionary?
The going is tough for all free agents. Your workflow is often not consistent, and if you are lucky to have a steady flow of work, you may find that you are working all nighters to keep ahead and often balancing a number of different priorities.
2. Self belief
You have to believe that you are the best in your class. There’s no room for self-doubt (well at least not in public). Bottom line.
You will be disappointed. You will get rejected. So you learn to live with it and get up to fight another day.
4. Mental agility
Whatever your specialty, you’ll be working on different things for different clients and you’ll need to be up to date and cogent. That can be quite stressful, especially if you are juggling parenting or other parts of your portfolio career.
Successful freelancers are always generous with their time, expertise and skills, because they see the value in increasing the size of the cake for all of us and they know that the ecosystem works much better when we all look after each other.
Realistically though, if you haven’t ticked all of these, and you find yourself freelancing not through choice, but through circumstance, don’t worry! There’s plenty of support, and most of us learn through experience. The advantages vastly outweigh the bad times as any brave freelancer will tell you.