Freelancer: Are You It?
When I first started freelancing fulltime nine months ago, my parents were worried. They were afraid that I would use freelancing as an excuse to be a coach potato at home, rotting away in front of the television and doing nothing but letting time slip away. They were afraid that I would stop giving them monthly expenses to cover the apartment’s rent, car loan and everything else. They were worried about what others would say about their daughter sitting at home day and night. Honestly, I think they were more worried about themselves than me. And everyone else around them didn’t help but added salt to the situation.
That’s the misconception of freelancing. First off, as a freelancer, you should embrace the exact concept of it. Don’t let the perceptions of others ruin your job as a freelancer. Yes, freelancing is a job. It means you are self-employed, and that makes you an employee of your own. So if you don’t start looking at freelancing as your job, then everything that other people say about you will come true.
Just last week, a desperate single mother turned up at my doorstep and asked me to save her daughter. Chloe* has graduated with a degree in Arts and Media last year. She told her mother that she wants to be a freelancer, thus hasn’t send a single resume out for job hunting since her graduation. Worst still, she didn’t even work on any projects for the past one year and has been lazing in the comfort of her air-con room watching YouTube every day for the past 365 days. Her excuse, “I don’t have any clients.”
Not only did she not help to ease her mother’s burden of feeding 5 children as a single mother, Chloe even asked her mother for money to spend on clothes and food. When this poor mother heard from my mother how well I was doing as a freelancer, she immediately sought me for help. When I heard her story, I wanted to bash up her daughter (not literally, of course, I am a gentle creature).
As a freelancer, you are first accountable to yourself, then to the people around you. Being a freelancer doesn’t make you God. It doesn’t mean you can sit around and wait for projects to fall down from heaven, leeching to other people’s hard-earned money while you are waiting for clients to come to you. It takes effort, determination and perseveration. It requires work on YOUR part. YOU need to make it work; not anyone else.
Thus, before you call yourself a Freelancer and make a huge announcement to the world, think about it. Think about the working-from-home lifestyle, the pressure from people around you, the uncertainty of monthly income, the working style, etc. Always remember to think of Freelancing as a job you are about to apply. What are you looking to achieve through it and if you’re the boss, would you hire yourself?
Freelancer is an easy label to wear; a cap that every fresh graduate put on their head when they walk out of the university. It’s a label that saves them the hassle of writing their resumes, looking for their first jobs and switching to working lifestyle mode – which is so wrong. Freelancing is not an escape route. It’s a job. If you don’t get it right, you’re not it; you’re not a freelancer.
* Name changed to protect individual’s privacy.
Originally written by Gina Yap Lai Yoong © 2010 – First published at Live & Inspire Online Magazine