When it comes to work, freelancing is becoming the new normal. According to Startup Australia, within five years, 60% of Australia’s workforce could be freelance or contractual. This is a huge shift from our parents’ and grandparents’ day, where it was standard to work the same job for an entire lifetime. As time goes on, it will be more common to work for multiple different companies in a single week.
I’m a freelance writer, so this is already how I work. My week is both diverse and unpredictable. While sometimes this can feel like a bit of a risky game, I don’t plan on getting a full time job anytime soon. For me, freelancing is a good time and I wouldn’t trade it in for a full-time schedule. Here’s what I’ve learned so far about the freelance lyf.
You create your own schedule
This is by the far the best part of freelancing. If you don’t want to be awake and dressed at 9am, in most cases there’s no reason to be. You can start at noon and work in slippers and a dressing gown if that’s your steez. Or if you’re a proper night owl you can start work at midnight. And unlike other jobs, where you ask your boss nicely (or beg) for time off, you simply create a schedule around your social life. This doesn’t mean it’s a bludge – you still have to work hard, it’s just that you get to choose when and where you do it. I’m in Bali right now, just casually.
Forget sitting at the same office with that same bunch of people day after day, year after year. As a freelancer you’ll likely find yourself working on a range of different projects from a range of locations with a range of different people. You may start out in your bedroom, a café or a public library, then work your way up to a co-working space, an agency or your very own private office. It really depends on what you want to do.
It’s pretty unregulated tho…
The good thing about full-time work is that you generally get paid superannuation, sick leave and holiday pay. Unfortunately, freelancers often miss out on these benefits, simply getting paid an agreed amount of cash in exchange for an agreed amount of work, without the benefits. In the long term, this will need to change to accommodate for the rise of freelance workers.
Self-motivation is key
For some people, becoming your own boss is the most liberating thing ever. For others, it’s a complete and utter disaster. At the end of the day, you’ve got to be self motivated enough to actually work, and to make sure you can hit your deadlines on time.
Networking is super important
A good freelancer is always looking for new and interesting opportunities. This means constantly meeting new peeps and casually letting them know what you do. You never know who could hit you up to do some work, so it’s prudent to treat everyone you meet is a potential client.
This ties into the whole ‘How exactly do I become a freelancer?’ thing. There’s a heap of online content producers (like this one!), so it’s just a matter of reaching out even if they don’t have a job posting. They’re always looking for content or videos or photos. If you haven’t got a portfolio yet, you’ll probably have to work for free to get your name out there a little. It’s like an internship from home.
You’re going to need to get organised
Between selling yourself, networking, lining up work, doing said work and then invoicing clients and getting paid, there’s a fair bit of organising to do. You’re basically running your own business. It’s not very complicated stuff, but it requires you to be organised.
Learn as you go
You don’t actually need to know all this freelancer stuff before you get started, it’s perfectly fine to just pick it up as you go. But you’ll need to be prepared to constantly adapt. You’re going to need to be flexible, keen and ready to learn.