Hi guys! Yey, spring is officially on, temperatures are rising and sun is warming us more and more! Fun projects are on way at my desk. Creative design, brand styling, graphic design, logo design and a new thing that I’ll fill you in soon enough. Great things coming up, I can say that much!
Posting blog posts is always exciting. So you can imagine how much I loved getting such great feedback from my latest Creative Life and Biz -tutoring series post: The importance of having a business bestie. It was heart-warming to hear through different channels that you’ve found it interesting, helpful and important. And judging by the number of clicks for the page, I see the topic itself is interesting to many. Thank you so much!
There’s so many topics to write about when thinking about tutoring a creative life and business, so let’s continue the series. This one focuses on that little-but-so-big word hidden in the term freelancer. It’s time to bring freedom back to freelancing.
EMBRACE YOUR FREELANCER FREEDOM
Many firms are outsourcing a big bunch of their work-load these days. Job posts have become more un-certain and companies tend to hire freelancers rather than hiring more employees. They’ve found that they can outsource almost anything: public relations, interviews and hiring, brand design, graphic design, sales forces, payroll handling, practically anything.
It’s not my intention to comment on this development, so I’m not saying it’s good nor bad. I’m just researching the outcome of this phenomenon.
This has anyway started something that results in many people going freelance and has opened new possibilities for people to employ themselves and work more and more on their own terms.
While freelancing and self-employment might have it’s down-sides (anything has, but we’re not going to go into them now) it has quite a few great up-sides. These up-sides have much to do with the freedom that freelancing has built in. People that are new to freelancing might not have realized this. Let’s take a few minutes putting the free back in freelancing.
BRINGING FREEDOM BACK TO FREELANCING: REALIZING THE FACTS
I’ll tell you a few basic tips to reclaiming that freedom of enjoying what you do. I’m sure all of them don’t work in every business, so you’ll have to adjust them to your own situation. This is written from my own point of view, graphic design being my field of business.
YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR OWN SCHEDULES
When you’ve been working from 9 to 5 all your adult life you might not have realized that when you freelance you can do two things:
- You can work whenever you want
- You can take time off whenever you want
We’re so used to and many times forced into the 9 to 5 work schedule. It’s a norm and you might even be used to dragging yourself out of bed half-asleep just to meet those demands. I know I did in the beginning. That’s why it comes as a shock to many freelancers to notice that they actually don’t need to follow it. You can work pretty much whenever you want. If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule meetings to 9 AM. And if you’re a night owl, it’s all right to work from 10 pm to 3 am. You might not want to schedule client meetings at those hours though. But I bet you can do the productive work at night and just book those needed meetings for the afternoon and still come out of them alive.
I’m an early riser naturally, but not quite as early as I thought. I used to wake up with an alarm clock at 6 AM, but I don’t use the alarm anymore. I’ve now found out that I wake up naturally sometime between 7 AM and 8.30 AM. It’s sooo great to get to wake up when it feels natural. The start of the day is easier and well, natural.
Also taking time off in the middle of the day is fine. Maybe you want to meet your friends, do yoga, go running, take a nap or clean the house. It’s perfectly all right, just do it. Maybe not all in one day, but you get my point, right? I do all of those things (except naps. I’m not good at napping) and it feels great to have the freedom to do so.
I must say though that don’t exercise the freedom of slacking every day, no. I’m actually very productive in most days, glued to my desk and computer, tackling that to-do list. But I love the idea of my creative freedom, am very aware of it and take advantage of it often enough. Though I’m not saying it’s easy every time. Many times I f.ex. arrange to meet with friends at 3 PM only to find myself in super-rush before that and literally running to the cafe of whatever the place we’ve agreed to meet. But when I’m there, I’m all there. No checking e-mails, no thinking about work. And that, my friends, is what makes it all worth the while.
So my point is, and I can’t stress this enough (this is actually one of those main ingredients for a happy life):
Be a bit selfish in a positive way: build your day and your week to match who you are and to match what and how you want to do things. The paste, the timetables, they’re your field of freedom.
When you follow your own natural schedule and have life also outside the office, everybody wins. Your clients are happier and more satisfied. Because when you’re happy doing what you do, your work is so much better. Happiness shines through.
YOU KNOW THAT THING CALLED HOLIDAY
I don’t know about you, but I love taking a holiday every now and then. The fact that I like what I do, too, doesn’t take that away. I have needed a holiday twice a year when I was an employee, and guess what: I haven’t changed. So if you’re anything like me, make sure you take time to holiday, unwind, relax and think non-biz thoughts.
People go to freelancing to get to do what they love. I know I did. I wanted to have sole right to choose who and what I work with. Well the fact that I have to pay the mortgage also plays it’s role, but I try to think about this only as pursuing my passion. Doing what I love consists on work and leisure time.
It’s always a bigger deal when an entrepreneur takes a holiday. Some people are amazed to hear I took two weeks off in December, one in March and am planning on a full-month holiday for the summer. They know, as well as I do, that there’s no holiday bonus dropping down from heaven for an entrepreneur (when here in Finland an employee gets full pay plus extra money for their yearly holidays).
But I think of it like this. I buy expensive equipment for my company, so why wouldn’t I invest in the one thing that is most crucial for my business: myself. I have decided to “buy” myself a holiday on a regular basis. It costs a lot and I don’t have a lot to spend, but still it’s a holiday and we all need them. Entrepreneurs are not superhuman, we need to take time off too. It takes some serious planning to get everything done in able to take a few days off. For me it actually means some super-long days in the week before holiday, every time. But is so worth it.
It demands some sacrifices, but in the end having some time off every now and then pays back in no time. A relaxed and happy life is something to strive for.
Freelancers might have to adapt to customers or other vendors holiday times when planning their own, but I think it’s safe to say that freelancers have more freedom in choosing their holiday times than most employees. At least you don’t have to compete with you colleagues over who gets the best holiday period. Everything is possible when you think about it.
WORK ENVIRONMENT DECISIONS
When you employ yourself, no one isn’t going to make your working environment arranges for you – well, not for free anyway. This might seem like a struggle, but think of this as your window to work just the way you’ve always wanted.
If you’ve always wanted to work alone, you’ll now have the luxury of doing it. Working from home is great (I love it!) but it’s not for everybody. You can also rent an office outside home and still work alone. Then again if you’ve always desired having plenty of people around you in your job environment, you can book a desk in a hub of other kind or community work space. And so on and so on.
Freelancing (depending on your business field) is many times doable anywhere. You’re not tied to a certain place. I know creative freelancers who migrate to Spain for the winters, and continue on working on their freelance businesses from there. And in a smaller scale: You can grab your laptop and take your work with you to a cafe, a hub, to another city, etc. I do this a lot, I’ve even worked with my laptop in the park at summertime.
ONLY WORK ON PROJECTS YOU LOVE
I do a lot of visual brand identities and logo design. I know that each project that’s presented to me is very special for my clients. That means that we (the designers) should realize that what we take on is super important and should be handled with care. This is why I love knowing that, because of what I’ll say next, these projects are equally special to me.
This one is also by far one of my favourite “freedom facts” in my work.
I tend to get sucked in every design project I work on. They’re in my head all the time, and I’m juggling ideas even when I’m not working. I want to know that the projects that are in my head are pleasant and inspiring. Most projects that are offered to me are, so it’s easy to achieve this.
But sometimes I come across a project that I’m just not feeling great about, for some reason. A red alert goes off in my head: “don’t do this”. Then I’ll know that it is in everyone’s best interest if I politely decline before I even give a price estimate.
So if you’re not into some project offered to you, feel free to say no. Or if someone’s vibe just isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t start working on their project. It’s as simple as that, and in the end everyone benefits from this.
You have the freedom to choose! Love your projects, they deserve it! And when you take some time choosing the right projects for you, you can be sure to be loved right back.
Creative Life & Biz is a post series by Annika Välimäki offering helpful tips and guides to entrepreneurs working in creative fields.
Annika Välimäki is a happy graphic designer and a brand stylist working and living in Turku, Finland.