When I jumped into full-time freelance writing 25 years ago, I hoped to make a career of it, but I still had my doubts. To hedge my bets, I was helping a friend get a new magazine off the ground, a job that took about a week per month. He wanted me onboard as editor once the cash flow improved, and I viewed it as a good fallback if the writing thing didn’t work out.
But within three months, I was hooked. The freelance writing lifestyle was so addictive I vowed to do everything I could to make a living at it. I knew then I was never going to punch a timeclock at the magazine or anywhere else for that matter.
Here are three things that fed my freelance addiction:
Less Stress – People refuse to believe that a job without a guaranteed paycheck could possibly have less stress, but for most freelancers, it’s the truth. For me, the major stressor in a corporate job was the lack of control. At my last real job, layoffs could be announced at any minute, and it didn’t matter how hard you worked or how good you were. I hear it’s even worse today. Any day of the week, I’ll choose my current situation where success – or failure – is a direct result of my own skills, knowledge and effort…and no bean counter in Accounting can walk down the hall and derail my career on a whim. If you’ve ever been laid off, you know what I mean.
More Control – I mentioned it above, but I can’t emphasize enough the psychological and emotional benefits of having more control over your own life. Freelancing has given me the freedom to decide when I work, who I work for, where I work (and live) and what type of work I take. And those things translate directly into increased satisfaction, happiness and physical health. If you stop and think about it, greater control is probably what you really want out of life.
No Commute – This may sound trivial, but those of you who work in a big city like I did know a brutal commute is an enormous waste of time that can send your blood pressure skyrocketing before you even arrive at the office. For years in Washington, D.C., I sat in bumper-to-bumper Beltway traffic in the morning and afternoon. One to two hours almost every day, wasted. When I finally quit my job and started freelancing from home, the thing that struck me most was how much extra time I had. Time to read, time to exercise and time to relax. I literally added almost eight hours to my life every week. What would you do with so many bonus hours? There are only so many grains of sand in your hourglass, and it’s up to you to decide how you’ll use them.
The allure of the freelance lifestyle is a topic I’ll return to in future blogs.
Want to know more about what it takes to be a successful freelancer? I recently recorded a class that I’ve presented to local writers’ groups for the past couple years, and you can watch it for free online. Check it out – Six-Figure Freelancing: Three Keys to Success.