What I’ve learned from freelancing

“Freelancing. You spend half your time working and the other half looking for work.” — My neighbour

I’ve always freelanced in some form or another. Sometimes I was paid and sometimes I did it for free (friends, favours, bylines). I’ve always had a job though. There was the protection of a steady paycheque to cushion me against the quirks of freelancing.

Then last August I lost my job. I got a decent severance and I had savings but those never last as long as one would like so I had to do something quickly.

I emailed a lot of people I knew about my situation and soon got a couple opportunities to write and get paid on a regular basis.

A friend told me I was lucky – trust me, I really appreciate the fact that nine months later I can pay my bills doing this. What I have found is that freelancing teaches you a few things that working for someone probably won’t.

1. Creativity is like a muscle. Use it regularly and it gets stronger. I have to write every single day and often have to think of my own topics.

2. You’re a better writer than you think. It goes back to the first point. Writing is like a muscle as well. Use it and it serves you well. Of course, your writing can only be improved by a good editor.

3. Rejection is not personal. Old and trite but true. Other freelancers know what I’m talking about.

4. Organization and discipline. I’ve always been pretty organized but freelancing has made me scarily so. Invoices? On them. Pitches? Lined up and waiting. Chasing people down? I have my (virtual) running shoes.

5. Hanging out by yourself isn’t bad. I work from home and sometimes an entire day goes by without me saying a word. The radio is on (my television is in my locker) sometimes but often it’s me, a cup of coffee and the clicking of my keyboard.

Sometimes I crave the company of other people so I’ll make plans and head out. Most of the time I like being by myself. I’m pretty good company.

6. My social life has gotten better. I go out with friends and acquaintances and I really appreciate my time with them. That and they do keep me sane.

Would I go back to a regular nine-to-five job? Yes, but it would have to be something truly compelling. I would still freelance though. I worked hard to get those muscles into shape. I’d hate to lose that.

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