We love freelancers. But you knew that.
So it’d be rather silly for us to tell you why we think it’s awesome.
Which is why we asked a group of freelancers whose work ranges from UX to front end development, and everything in between, to give us their own unadulterated opinions about why the freelance lifestyle/workstyle is so compelling.
Some have worked with Vitamin T, some have not. All are super cool. And regardless, they all had a lot to say on the subject, so enjoy:
- It’s perfect for people with “Designer A.D.D.” - The reason everyone wants to work at an agency? People don’t get bored at agencies, due to the incredible variety of work they get to do. Freelancing gives you the same exciting variety of projects, because you’re continually working on different brands. One of our interviewees admitted she’d left her full time job due to boredom; she just was not having enough to do to keep her busy and excited - something she doesn’t feel anymore now that she’s freelancing!
- No job comes with a guarantee - A few of our freelancers pointed out that it’s a reality that anyone, anywhere can lose their job at a moment’s notice, even if they are full-time employees. One commented that when she hears a friend say they aren’t interested in taking a contract role because they have a “permanent” job, she points out that no one really has a permanent job anymore. With a contract, she has a reasonable idea of when her job is ending, so she can start planning for the next one. Another pointed out that there is an inherent nervousness about not always knowing when you’ll get work, but they’d take that over an unrealistic sense of security. Most of our interviewees agreed that you need to be comfortable with risk and with not knowing exactly what you'll be doing all the time. But if you’re good with that, the payoff is excellent.
- Hot skills aren’t necessarily subject to the world’s economy - Even though the economy is still struggling, some industries are doing well, booming in fact. Among those doing well, there is a high demand for talent with hot skills. Which includes some of our freelance interviewees. (See our blog post on Inc. Magazine’s hardest jobs to fill in 2012.) For one of them, a mere eight days after having her portfolio online, she got an amazing gig at an agency she’d been dying to work for.
- You can build up your agency-desirable portfolio - Working for one or two companies can lead to having very few brands in your book. Freelancing is the perfect way for you to get a wider variety of pieces. And when you get a more diverse portfolio, you’re a highly desirable candidate for agency. So, if that’s your ultimate goal, contracting is the perfect route!
- You get to work with a lot of creatives - If you like variety of projects, then you’ll definitely like the variety of creatives you’re going to meet. “I love working with different teams and find that helps me get to know different styles and learn more about what I do as well,” one the freelancers commented. Another told us that freelancing forced them to network. And though networking is hard for them to do at times, it really pays off: you get to meet a ton of great creatives when you get out to events.
- You may be able to set your own hours - This is the dream, right? If you’re working offsite, as long as you’re putting in the hours to get those projects done, you have the ability to work the hours any way you want. If you’re more of a night owl, you can stay up until 4 am and wake up at the crack of noon. If you’re up with the sun, you can get in that jog and be done with a project while everyone else is just getting settled into their morning emails. (One freelancer suggested you might even, “develop a midday nap habit à la the Spanish.”)
- You may even get a vacation - One of our freelancers said she keeps a savings account at the ready, to give her padding when she needs to take a vacation or has time between gigs. She uses this cash to be strategic with her career choices. Instead of taking the first thing she’s offered or a full-time gig that isn’t quite right, she leverages her savings to wait until the job she really wants comes along. Another commented that she loves freelance because she likes working fewer hours. Not working the full 40 hours a week allows her a better home life for her family and a better balance for herself.
So what do you think, is freelancing the way to go for you? Let us know what you’ve experienced, regardless of whether you’re currently working a “permanent” or freelance job!
Our thanks to all the freelancers who gave us/you advice, and the great reads over at The Exceptional Creative!