A freelancer is someone who does not hold an in-house position at a company. They have the freedom and the ability to work from any location they want, and to set their own working days/hours.
Never in my 10 years of experience have I held an in-house position, although I have worked closely with corporate entities/clients throughout my career. Trust me, freelancing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
While the advantages of freelancing are many, there are 4 points that people who are not familiar with it don’t realize:
1- It’s more challenging
Freelancing is way more demanding, because you do not have a specific set of working hours to abide by. You find yourself working more sometimes. And if you are a parent, it’s true that working from the comfort of your own home is an inviting idea, but having young kids/pets around is distracting. And if you really love your job (like I do), you will find yourself filling up more hours with work during the day, which leaves you with a limited amount of both sanity and free time (if you’re a workaholic and you know it, clap your hands!).
2- You play several roles at a time
I will speak of my experience and of my field. In-house translators usually only deal with the translation part of the job. They don’t have to worry about sending their employers invoices to get paid, and they definitely don’t have to deal with the hassle of filing their taxes every single year.
Freelance translators, on the other hand, need to be accountants, auditors, project managers, marketing specialists, secretaries, coordinators, highly skilled negotiators, decision makers and social media specialists all at once!
3- You need to have discipline
It is said that having an in-house job gives you a certain level of discipline and that this is how you become a professional. For freelancing, you are your own boss, you make your own decisions and that has an impact on your clients. You need to leave the right impression on them: look professional, act professional, and own up to your mistakes. Never show up late for a meeting, always stick to deadlines, and confirm EVERYTHING via email. When you’re taking a business call during regular working hours, don’t have the kids chasing you and shouting. Yes, I lock myself up in my room and take the call. I keep them busy with something so I have a quiet space. If I can’t keep them quiet, I simply don’t take the call! I call back immediately after I get the right setup, especially if it is a super important call. The same goes for Whatsapp voice notes.
Oh and one more thing: always proofread your messages and emails prior to sending. Human error is normal, but being super picky means you are a perfectionist. I always send a second email apologizing for the typo. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t know that I had a typo and just not acknowledge it (Grammar Nazi par excellence).
4- It is sometimes frustrating
Success as a freelancer really doesn’t come easy. Although the benefits are many and it pays off when you become an established freelancer, so many sacrifices need to be made. It might take you so long to round up a portfolio of your own clients and to have a constant flow of work, and it’s definitely a continuous effort because you need to put yourself out there and not sit and wait for the jobs to come your way. Chances are they will never come unless you start knocking doors and sending thousands of emails. So it could get frustrating when you don’t have enough work, in between jobs, and even when you have just finished a huge job. The uncertainty hits your self-esteem really hard, and it is inevitable, even for established freelancers. But you need to learn to control it and to have patience, confidence, and self-esteem. And the most important tip of all is definitely the following: work hard and never stop believing in yourself.