The freelancer's journey

 

This week marks 5 years and six months since I left my cubicle to become a freelance writer. Although you don’t make anniversaries with half years, I thought it was as good a time as any to look back at five things I used to believe when I started, but no longer believe now.

1. Success is granted if you work hard.

I used to think that with hard work, dedication and determination, it would be just a matter of time before I would achieve my own version of success. As it turned out, all those things are necessary, but don’t make success automatic. A good amount of patience and a thick skin are also necessary.

2. I’m good at managing my finances.

The worst type of ignorant is the one who thinks he knows everything. That was me when I transitioned from managing my salary to managing my freelance income. After all, I had been good at that as an employee, how hard could it be in my new situation? Maybe it was not that hard, but it sure was a lot different. The result: for years I let my financial boat take on water until I eventually learnt my lesson (the hard way, of course). Now I’ve sort of come full circle: I may not be good but I’m much better at it.

3. Freelancing is in every aspect superior to being an employee.

During my honeymoon with freelancing, I used to see my old days as an employee as part of a lesser past. My motto was: “A bad day as a freelance is better than a good day at the office.” Until I realised that both have their own advantages and disadvantages. They complement each other perfectly. Freedom, security, human relations: what one gives the other takes away.

4. My portfolio is my resume now, goodbye old CV.

Typical question on freelancers’ forums: “Company XYZ is looking for a freelance writer. I’d love to apply but they ask candidates to send their resume. What should I do?” Typical answer: “Stay away. That’s a huge red flag, your portfolio should be enough.” I totally get that stance, I used to completely agree with it. But now I think it’s too radical. It’s true that you can’t evaluate a writer without looking at their portfolio. However, there’s nothing wrong in wanting to know their background too, and a CV is still the most common way to do that.

5. I’m never going to apply for an employee position again.

After points 3 and 4, this is perhaps inevitable. I’m not planning to stop being a freelancer, but I’m not totally against going back to being an employee either. Blame Covid-19, or maybe it’s me getting older, but now I see my professional realisation as something I could achieve in different ways. Working as a freelance or for a company is just a means to an end.

Photo by Clemens van Lay on Unsplash