When I first went freelance, part of me thought that the things most freelancers complained about wouldn’t really happen to me. I’d like to say this was wishful thinking, but really I was just naive. I mean how often could I really have to chase invoices from clients? I would ask myself. Turns out, the answer to that question is a lot. See, the thing is that I’m not different than any other freelancer at all, and if you set out and freelance, odds are you’re not either. But there’s an upside to this.
The absolute best part of freelancing, and one of the most important things to remember, is that it is all in your hands — and as scary as it sounds, that’s a good thing. You own it. Sure, payments will be delayed and there will always be one or two annoying clients that take months and months to pay you, but the income you’re bringing in year-over-year and the work you are producing lives and dies with you.
I say this a lot to people, but here’s the main benefit of being freelance versus working at a company: At a company, you can work as hard as is mentally and physically possible and still, there will be factors that are out of your control that will ultimately affect your role in the company, in ways both big and small — in ways you notice (and blow out of proportion… we’ve all been there) and ways you never see at all. There will always be meetings you’re not in. There will be personal biases and everything else that comes along for working for other people. You can be the hardest working person in the room, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get every promotion and raise you want out of the job. Maybe you will. Still, I’ve never personally met someone at a company who was 100 percent satisfied with every aspect of their career trajectory, even if they have gotten all those promotions and raises.
When you’re freelance, it’s on you. You track your own growth, you control your own rates (and therefore control your raises), and at the end of the day you always have the satisfaction that you’re working as hard as you can and trust me, you recognize it. And, hey, if you’re not working as hard as you can, you recognize that, too. It’s easier to recognize that you need to cut back on one area of worth or push forward in another, and it’s easier to recognize when you have to take a break. There’s no wondering what other people think of you or whether you came across the right way in a meeting, because at the end of the day, you’re in control of it all.
When I started writing this post, I wanted to talk about just how organized you have to be when you go freelance, and that’s true… but I guess it’s turned into something else. So if you’re thinking of going freelance yourself, know this: It’s on you. There will still be frustrations and annoyances and hurdles, but at the end of the day, you’re in control. You’re not a small cog in a big machine, you are the machine. You own your successes, and you own your failures, too. They’re all yours. And trust me — all of it, even the hard stuff, feels rewarding as hell.