It’s been about 6 years since I went freelance and whilst it has it’s up’s and downs the overall experience has been positive. Previously I was working full time for a salon in London as a colourist. Then I set up a company with my boyfriend in Germany as we were preparing to launch our brand, Intensae nail lacquer. I combined working on the start-up with freelance jobs for a haircare brand to ensure the rent got paid each month.
I’d imagined a freelance life being similar to Carrie Bradshaw in Sex & The City. Meeting friends for brunch followed by some shoe shopping before heading back to the ‘office’ and working for a few hours and then going out for dinner and drinks. Unfortunately it’s not that glamorous after all! My friends are nearly always busy during the day and I’m usually glued to my computer, still wearing my pyjamas until it’s time to have an evening shower and put on some fresh pyjamas. It definitely has it’s upsides though! The time it usually takes to get ready and travel to work everyday allows me some time to sleep a little longer (amazing, I know), walk the dog and eat my breakfast in a leisurely manner. For me this is the biggest luxury I allow myself. On the flip side there’s pressure to earn money on a regular bases which can be stressful, especially if you are used to a fixed salary every month. It’s sink or swim and you need to learn to hustle fast because the work won’t come knocking at the door. If you get creative jobs for a large company or brand it can take several months until you receive your money unless they have you on a monthly retainer. This part can be tricky as you receive chunks of money throughout the year so you need to manage your finances carefully.
“The upside is freedom to build your own schedule but the pressure of finding a regular income can be stressful.”
Being your own boss gives you control to take your business in whichever direction you choose without having to ask someone’s approval on your decisions. There is nothing more frustrating that having a great idea canned because it doesn’t fit into your bosses vision. Another part you might find difficult is working at home and mostly alone. In the past I struggled to separate my work and home life and at times the lack of team members meant it could be lonely.
Sometimes I might be working in bed at 10pm which is fine if that’s your thing but it’s important to make a way to step away from the working space and relax in a living space everyday. This means creating a separate work space within the home such as an office or having a set up that can easily be packed away each day so you aren’t eating dinner next to a pile of invoices – trust me it’s depressing.
You have to be a certain type of person to work freelance happily and it involves self leadership and constant motivation. If you are being held back in your job and you are able to get your own clients then I believe it’s a smart decision to take the leap. The process will always be smoother if you are a hard worker and have savings in the bank to cushion you whilst things get started. This can easily take a year so the more spare cash you have the less stressful it will be and if things take off straight away then it’s money in the bank for a rainy day.