The ‘freelancer’ tag is much sought-after. Think of a freelancer and the brain conjures up pictures of ultra-cool people in pajamas working on fancy projects from the comfort of their bedrooms, topping it all off by walking away with fat pay cheques. No boss to answer to. No office politics. No pay-cuts for coming late to work. In short, a freelancer seems to be someone who, by some magical power, has been freed from the rigours of a nine-to-five corporate life, yet enjoying all its benefits. But is this true? Not entirely. Just like any full-time job, a freelance job has its share of pros and cons as well. If you're a full-timer looking to take the plunge into the world of freelancing, here are a few things you need to know.
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Freelancing demands more self-discipline and responsibility than full-time jobs. Freelancers, if not careful, can damage many aspects of their life. Posture is one of them. Working on the laptop sitting on the bed is not going to be good for the back in the long-run. Most freelancers ritualistically go through the regular morning routine of bathing, getting dressed, and getting to a designated workplace (which usually is the spare bedroom in the house). They do this to keep themselves from slipping into low standards of personal hygiene and laziness. Also, freelancers do not have a boss or team to interact with for collaboration, support, motivation or guidance. Successful freelancers are those who quickly develop themselves to be their own awesome boss who can be strict when they slip into laziness, motivate them when they feel low, and guide them in times of confusion.
If you're thinking of switching to a freelance work style, be prepared for an irregular pay schedule. As a freelancer, you may get compensated a tad bit more than what you got in your full-timer avatar. But you can never say when you will get paid. Most freelancers work hard on building a routine by fixing a set number of clients and projects. This may sometimes not let them work on new projects and clients that come in the way of their usual routine.
A full-time job, by its nature, helps you meet people every day. Getting together after work for a drink or a game of football is common among regular office goers. As a freelancer, you may not be required to step out of your house (or pajamas) every day. While this may feel like bliss in the beginning, soon you may find yourself by yourself for long periods of time.
Health insurance not included
Full-time jobs come with health insurance but freelancers have to look after themselves. This is one major downer that keeps full-timers from moving to freelancing no matter how enticing they find its other fancy trimmings.
While freelancers may not have to report to work on time, they can’t escape being bound by time. Adhering strictly to agreed deadlines is critical to maintaining a freelance work style. It's all about reputation in the freelance world. Slip once on a deadline, and your reputation is sure to take a beating.
Remember, the word ‘free’ in freelancer doesn’t mean that your services don’t cost a dime. It means the free time that you can have to yourself without a higher authority to report to. It’s not an easy task and therefore not for everybody.