How to know if you want to be a Freelancer for life


I love to hear stories about what got other freelancers started; their motivations usually give good insights into who they are and what they want for themselves. It also gives an inkling into whether they will remain freelancers for life, something that is certainly not for everyone! As a freelancer who has only been doing this for about a year, I’ve battled with whether I want to freelance as a career. Speaking with other freelancers, this has proved to be a common dilemma…

From their insights and mine, I’ve come up with five ways to know whether to be a freelancer for life:

1. You love your freedom

Arguably the best part of being a freelancer is that you have control over your time. Some freelancers have told me that they won’t trade this in for anything…not even for more money. Freedom is always sweet, but it’s more important to some than to others.  Some work better when there is the structure of a nine to five, an office, and laid down policies and procedures. Others find this structure stifling.
As a full-time freelancer, if you like this structure, you will probably view your freelancing as something to do while you’re looking for a new job, or something that supplements your regular income. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. If you do find this structure stifling, then freelancing for life may turn of great for you.

2. You love switching teams up

As a freelancer, you’re completely independent. But your clients most likely change. What’s more, you would probably have different people whom you would work with to deliver on projects, whether as stipulated by your client, or as a sub-contractor for another consultancy, etc. At the same time, you have to be able to work very well by yourself, doing all parts of the work single-handedly a lot of the times.
If you revel in this switch up and find this exciting, then freelancing is for you. Admittedly, there are other offices you could work in that would give you this (e.g. consulting), but you would most likely survive a life-long freelance career better than someone who didn’t like to switch teams up a bit.

3. You can handle dry spells in your bank account

Let’s face it, freelancing fees can come quite haphazardly. If you’ve got a strong heart, or a cushioned bank account, or both, to deal with this, then you’re a good fit to go the long distance with freelancing. People I’ve talked to who seem invested in freelancing recognize that even though there are dry spells, there’s a job or fee round the corner (which they are working towards) that will make the dry spells worth it.

4. You genuinely don’t want to deal with company politics

Many people often get frustrated by office politics…it can get exhausting. And the bigger the company, the more complex and exhausting it can get for some. This is part of what motivates a number of freelancers I’ve spoken with to leave and start working independently – they couldn’t care less about office politics and the ‘BS’ that often comes with it, and they can’t wait to leave it behind.
If you’re that frustrated with dealing with your office culture and politics, and can’t stomach the thought of returning, then freelancing for life may be a better fit for you.

5. You ultimately want your own business

Last, but certainly not least on this list, is the long-term goal of long-haul freelancers. Although many of them are content with working independently in the short and middle-term, some time along the line, many hope to get more structured and start their own businesses. This just makes sense in terms of growth. As freelancers get more seasoned, their networks increase, and they get more jobs than they can deliver by themselves. This is a good prompt for many to start assembling a team, and then become incorporated.
Many freelancers also start with the end in mind – hoping to start their own business, but starting small and lean with just themselves on the payroll. Freelancers are really entrepreneurs. If you want your own business and have an entrepreneurial spirit, then freelancing for life is for you.

In conclusion, not everyone who is currently freelancing wants to stick with it for the rest of their career; and this is fine. Doing this for life really depends on the kind of person you are and the goals you want to achieve in your career. So if you like unstructured work hours and offices as well as pay, working with different teams and working alone; if you’re frustrated with office politics and excited at the challenge of starting your business, then freelancing for life might fit you just fine.

Adiya Atuluku

Adiya Atuluku is a freelance management and sustainability consultant who is passionate about helping businesses be more sustainable. She uses her experiences in both environmental and management consulting to achieve this.

By Adiya Atuluku

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