The 8 Most Satisfying Aspects of Being a Freelancer
I’ve only been freelancing for a month and a half, but I absolutely love it. It helps that I’ve been kept busy by some fantastic (and prompt paying) clients, but there’s so much more to it than that.
Freelancing means a different method of structuring your day and it’s one that really suits the way I work. From leaving university in 2000 until 2013, I worked permanently in radio and, although you have to obviously be in the studio for the three or four hours of the show, when you choose to prepare for that show is down to you.
From 2013 until the start of this year, I did the 9 to 5 thing and, although it was a lovely company with great colleagues, that sort of life just doesn’t appeal. With that in mind, here are the eight most satisfying aspects of being a freelancer that I’ve found so far.
Sorting My Emails
My home email inbox was a mess, quite frankly. It had personal emails coming in, as well as messages for my Bewildered Dad blog and This is Ilkley website in addition to all the newsletters and marketing mailouts I’d signed up to over the years.
There were thousands of unread emails, including a wedge of Google Alerts I signed up for and never, ever read. Adding my new business email to the mix meant I’d struggle to find important work information amongst the mire of half-price Hoover sales and club night offers for events I’m far too old to attend.
I set aside an afternoon, archived my old messages and went on a mammoth ‘unsubscribe’ session. IT. FELT. GOOD. Seriously, you should try it. For the first time in 15 years, virtually every email I receive is something I actually want or need to read. It’s a revelation. Look at the difference:
Visiting the Post Office When it’s Not Busy
I don’t know if there have ever been any studies about how many lunchtimes each year the average office worker wastes in Post Offices queues, but I imagine it’s fairly high. Obviously, when you’re restricted to a break between 12 and 1, that’s the only time during opening hours you can get there, and you’ll find that everyone else has had exactly the same idea.
As a freelancer, I can take a break and send my parcels whenever I like. In and out of the building like a postal ninja.
I have experimented and, if you find yourself in my position, you should also avoid 9am till 10am (just after school drop-off) and 3pm till 4pm (school pick-up).
Hanging Out With the Kids
I quit my office-based employment, as well as my job as pitch announcer at Scunthorpe United, to spend more time with my kids. Freelancing allows me to eat lunch with them each day (and to get splattered with half-chewed cucumber courtesy of my particularly messy one-year-old).
I can move work around so I can take the eldest to pre-school, and I can even enjoy the honour of hanging out with them for the day on occasions. It’s ace.
Avoiding the Commute
Although my commute was stunning – heading over the tops between the Ilkley area and rural North Yorkshire – it was still a journey during rush hour. Okay, it wasn’t like battling your way into central London on a daily basis, but there were the same old hold-ups at the same times every single day.
In winter I didn’t get to appreciate the beauty of the landscape around me because I left and returned in darkness, which meant I could have been driving anywhere in the world.
My usual commute now is down to the kitchen table, where I can get a few hours work done before the four-year-old whirlwind arrives home and I have to head off to a quieter locale. There are very few traffic jams on this route.
Tea Round Politics
I have a problem and I don’t mind admitting it. I need much more tea than a normal person in order to function. This was a major problem in an office environment.
After making a round when I arrived, I would be itching for another within the hour. I’d hang on until someone else volunteered and, when no one had visited the kitchen within three hours of the initial brew, I’d have to make another. Suddenly all the people who had previously shown no interest in making one were now also craving a caffeine fix.
If there was no cuppa forthcoming after that I had to write it off for another day. Making three rounds of drinks for an entire office would, understandably, raise questions about my work rate.
To be free of office tea round politics and to be able to self administer as much or as little caffeine as I need, when I need it, is bliss. Nowadays, this is my only potential tea-based problem:
— This is Ilkley (@ThisisIlkley) September 8, 2017
I’ve always had lots of different interests and passions I’d like to pursue, and freelancing allows me to indulge all of them. I love writing website content and blog posts, but I also adore video making. In addition, I can now jump back into radio, and I’ve booked in a whole load of work on the wireless in April.
Not being tied to one skill is not only an advantage for finding plenty of work to keep me going, but it keeps things really interesting and varied.
Working in Ace Places
Many people enjoy the idea that they have a fixed place of work and that they return there day after day. That’s fine if that’s your cup of tea, but I love being able to choose where to place myself for the day based on meetings I might have, which spaces are available and whatever mood I’m in on that day.
— Jim Coulson (@jimcoulson) February 15, 2018
Plus, if I decide that I want to be the lazy non-teamaking employee for the day, I can hang out in a cafe where, I’ve discovered, people will make one for you in exchange for money. Revolutionary.
It’s a World Cup Year
I don’t have to start practising my ‘poorly vice’ in order to take the afternoon off to watch the football this summer. If that’s not a convincing argument for freelancing, I don’t know what is.
If you’re a freelancer, what are the things that you find most satisfying about the way you work? Add them in the Comments.