Monday, 22 January 2018

A Peek into my Freelance Life

Yes this is a long title but I could honestly not find a better one that would also be shorter! Since I went freelance, a lot of things have changed in my life and although some of these changes are quite small, they’re still happening and I thought you curious lot might want to hear about it!

These are obviously comments from my own experience and although you might find them helpful if you’re thinking of going freelance, please bear in mind that everybody is different and you might not experience the same things as me!

First of all, my stress level has changed.
It’s not a secret that I’m the kind of person that can get stressed out quite easily. With Jason being quite laid back, having him around me does help a lot. When I used to work in a design agency, I was always stressed out about something. Sometimes for the obvious reasons like waiting for a client’s feedback or having to rush to finish a piece of work on time. But sometimes about things that you don’t have to deal with when you’re working on your own, like having to deal with projects that haven’t been managed properly or getting nowhere with a project that you knew from the start wasn’t right for you.

Basically, I stress about things that I can’t control, and when you’re working in a company, there are loads of things that you just can’t control, which is normal. The difference now that I’m self-employed is that I know exactly what’s going on, which project needs finishing when and what my client is after every time.

I still stress about various things (obviously), but as hard as it is to explain, this is definitely not the same type of stress. I worry about not making enough money on certain months and I still stress about some projects I take on for example, but that’s just because I’m putting pressure on myself. And if I make a mistake, I know that there’s nobody else but me to blame, which sometimes can feel quite hard to admit. But at the same time, everything you do, you do it for your business, and the satisfaction you get from it is worth all the stress you can feel in various situations.

I know it’s going to sound weird, but most of the stress I feel whilst working is good stress. The kind that makes you want to aim higher, work harder on that project and show something you’re super proud of to your client. The kind of stress that makes you jump with excitement when you’re reading that client’s feedback that you were so worried about and that in the end is very positive. And when your client is unhappy, you do all you can to make him/her happy again not because you know that your boss will be after you if you don’t, but because you’re doing it for you, your business and your peace of mind. So I kind of prefer that.

I’m definitely more tired.
Although, I can’t decide if it’s because I’m getting older too… haha! But weirdly enough, I’ve noticed that since last year, I very easily fall asleep on the couch whilst watching a movie at night. And the only thing that has changed since then is the fact that I’ve gone freelance. At one point Jason got annoyed because every night I would fall asleep at like 9.30pm whilst we were watching a movie and I would wake up at the end of it and complain that I didn’t see half of it. Yes, I would somehow manage not to blame myself but would rather complain about the fact that we will need to watch that movie again.

I honestly think it’s because I constantly think about a 1000 things at the same time and my brain is way too tired at the end of the day to concentrate on a movie. That or the fact that I’m becoming an old granny.

I tend to stick to a schedule to keep organised (see my previous post here!) but I’m very aware of the fact that I’m my own boss and can change that schedule whenever I need to. One thing I try to do is to have my Friday afternoons off when I’ve finished all the work I needed to do that week. I also like the fact that even if I’m ‘late’ one morning because I felt super tired, nobody is going to yell at me for starting my work at 10am instead of 9am!

A good example was when my brother had a motorbike accident. As I’m working on a laptop, I didn’t think twice about staying almost two weeks at my parents’ so that I could help whenever I could whilst working the rest of the time. I basically just need my laptop, my external hard-drive, and a good internet connection. Well, having my graphic tablet helps a lot too.

Also, no need to ask your boss about holiday dates! Although it’s a tricky topic as to be honest, I’ve had less holidays since being self-employed purely because when you don’t work, you don’t earn any money (obvious but good to remember!). It’s easy to have half a day or even a day off here and there, it’s less easy to have whole weeks off, even more when you’re just starting! But I have more regular clients now and it’s getting easier for me to have time off as long as I plan it well and tell my clients as early as I can.

I value my time whilst working (and not working) a lot more.
Yes, Monday mornings can still be a bit hard, but definitely not as much as when I was working a 9-5 job. I’m no longer just looking forward to the weekend, I’m also looking forward to starting new projects, having an exciting meeting with a new client, or making time to work on my own projects and blog. But I also value my weekend a lot more as I make a point of not working for two days and it’s the opportunity to plan things, go out and explore or just relax a bit.

I think I value my time a lot more because I’m the one deciding when I should work and when I shouldn’t, but also because I actually enjoy what I do and most days are just good days. I mean, we all have frustrating days, things that go wrong and projects that are harder than others, but everyday I wake up feeling the same, no matter what day of the week it is, I’m just glad to start a new day and do what I love.

Money is tight.
Not only do I value my time more, but I also value my money more too. If you’ve read my previous post about how Jason and I manage our money (You haven't? Here it is), you know that I’ve always been careful with it, but that since I’ve gone freelance, I’ve been extra careful spending it.

When I worked at a design company, I definitely felt like I deserved the money I was earning because I was working hard but I have to say, when you earn money from your own project that you managed from beginning to end and that you worked hard to keep your client happy whilst being proud of your work, it just doesn’t feel the same. You feel like you really deserve every penny from it and that you should spend it very wisely because you don't know when you’re going to get some more.

I’m not quite at this stage anymore as I have more regular work and I get paid for various projects regularly, which makes managing my money a lot easier. But still, I’m far from rolling in gold and although I would happily do the same work for free, as a couple we also need to pay for the rent, bills, food, etc. Money doesn’t make you happy, but it helps a bit! But actually that’s not quite the point. The point is that when your client pays you for the hard work that you’ve done on your own, it feels a lot more special than getting a paycheck at the end of the month, even though the amount you’re getting can be a lot lower.

My slippers don’t last long.
Well yes, that’s one thing I’ve come to term with last year: my slippers are getting destroyed a lot quicker than they used to. And you know why, because I literally live in them. Did I say I was becoming a granny earlier?!

I’m not the type of person that would work in her pjs, I always get fully dressed ready to go out of the house if I need to, but I definitely don’t wear shoes in my house. So I wear my cosy slippers all day for at least 5 days of the week, and the poor things are suffering from it.

So yeah, get ready to buy more slippers.

And finally, I feel like I can be 100% myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I still felt like I could be myself around my colleagues, but when you’re working with other people around you, you obviously need to care a bit more about what you’re saying and what you’re doing than when you’re on your own. Most of the time there was a good atmosphere in the studio I was working in, I got on with everyone and we had quite a bit of fun sometimes, but still, I tried to not sing out loud to every song I liked, I wasn’t burping all the time and I couldn’t just pick the phone and call my mom for half an hour whilst everybody else was working around me.

Now, when I do all that, it’s only Jason that I’m annoying, and you know what, he’s so used to it by now that he doesn’t even care anymore. Good for me! Sometimes he’s laughing at his desk because even without looking at me, he can hear my chair squeaking because I’m dancing on it like a maniac.

So the one thing I love about being self-employed and working at home is that no matter how I look, what I do or say, there’s nobody else to judge me but my boyfriend and I can be 100% weird :)

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