Independent, self-employed, freelance – whatever you call it, working as a free agent is often associated with a temporary way of making money, something to do when you are in between jobs or figuring things out. But what if working independently is not just a stepping stone, but could offer exactly the job and professional life you’ve always dreamed of? With overall job satisfaction in the UK seriously diminishing across the board, it might just be worth re-evaluating what your ideal job and work environment looks like.
Whether it is boosting your income online or leveraging your talents for a largely offline business, we list three ways in which freelancing could very well provide you with the opportunity to carve out your very own career – precisely as it suits you.
Space for creativity
Speaking of showing up authentically: when it comes to marketing yourself, it’s less about selling and more about putting your best self out there. As a freelancer, this means you get to be creative – a lot! If you have an online business or a website you need to attract visitors to, it’s a good idea to make your online presence interesting with unique content, including videos, pictures, blog posts, etc. This is a great opportunity to bust out all of your hidden talents – or take some courses – in graphic design, writing, photography, video editing, etc.
No creative talent or interest whatsoever? Time to apply your smart delegation and problem-solving skills, for instance, by taking on an intern, issuing a design competition, or featuring aspiring writers in your network. In order to minimise the amount of work you have to put in, it is helpful to use a good CMS (content management system) and web apps that make working online far easier. Read a CMS comparison and find one that functions well for you and what type of work you’ll be doing.
Getting paid to do what you love
The most obvious thing about freelancing: you write the job description, you carve out your scope of action, you decide on what work you do. In addition to having the freedom to decide what jobs you accept, what projects you wish to join, and what people you work with, you also get to determine your own ‘job title’ and how you promote yourself professionally. Much of job dissatisfaction across the UK is caused by people feeling underappreciated and unable to fully apply their skills and creativity in their position.
What’s more, there often seems to be a perceived lack of opportunities for growth and development in regular jobs. When you set up shop and start working on your own terms, you are able to greatly influence what you spend your time on, in which direction you want to grow, and how you show up – authentically. That way, it is easier to find your field, your work, and your people – so you can get paid for doing what you most enjoy.
Flexibility, in every sense of the word
Find it hard to function in a highly regulated environment? Always dreamed of the space and privacy of a corner office or the joy of being able to travel internationally? Freelancers are notorious for the flexibility of their work life, but that does not mean that you are required to be flexible in every respect. As you start out, you might get a little overwhelmed by the lack of fixed office hours, the ad hoc requests from clients in this “gig economy” culture, and the perpetual feeling that you should somehow be hitting up all the coffee corners in your area. However, in the end, all of these factors are completely up to you.
Therefore, if you take the time to honestly assess what circumstances and conditions are specifically conducive to a pleasant and optimal work-life balance for you, freelancing gives you an enormous amount of liberty to design your own rhythm and workflow. Never forget that you actually have the means to set your own office hours, if that works best for you. Moreover, you can negotiate terms and conditions for collaboration, such as deadlines, processes, and work locations. If you enjoy travelling, look for clients abroad and arrange for travel coverage; if not, keep it closer to home.
In the end, jobs come from clients, and attracting and managing clients is all about relationship-building, and connections are built on honesty, integrity, and clear communication. So, know what you bring and know what you need, and you might just have created your own dream career.