Over the weekend, I asked on Instagram which topic you would like to see me tackle in my next blog post and, overwhelmingly, you agreed with Olivia's suggestion: the pros and cons of freelancing and working for yourself. In this blog post, I can only speak from my own experiences and, naturally, everyone has a different point of view. Anyway, here is my take on working independently. Don't miss my Q&A with Aimee at the bottom!
⟢ HELLO, FREEDOM ⟣
Freedom is wonderful. Not being dictated to is the age-old teenage dream, right? You can eat when you want to, take breaks when you're bored, and break up your day with exercise or by running errands. Best of all, you can schedule your work around your life. Who says you can't see your loved ones when you would like to, or take time off if you're ill? You can even have an early finish if you really fancy it.
⟢ CREATIVE CONTROL ⟣
Not having a boss means that you decide what to work on. You can pick and choose which projects you want to do. In a creative field especially, having that free rein is amazingly liberating. Those decisions are yours to make and you don't have to get the okay from somebody above you... unless you're working with a client, then you should definitely make sure that you're both in agreement.
⟢ LIVING THE DREAM ⟣
Most people daydream about waking up everyday and doing what they love. For freelancers, that can be a reality if you are building a business around your passion. Even small victories will put you on cloud nine and have you feeling so empowered, and rightly so. Obviously, it's not all sunshine and roses, so we'll get to that bit now.
⟢ INCONSISTENT ⟣
Working for yourself can be really stressful and overwhelming at times, and it's hard not to take those setbacks personally. Some months are good, others are rubbish - especially in the beginning. My stakes are not as high as other small business owners and freelancers, I don't have a mortgage or children to provide for. Fortunately, my family are supportive and I'm good at saving my pennies, so I'm never down to my last one. Know that there's no shame in getting another job to pay the bills, if needs must.
⟢ IN THE DEEP END ⟣
Working solo can make you feel like you're in over your head. You are solely responsible for the upkeep and reputation of your business. Everything falls on your shoulders - customer service, social media management, re-stocking, tax returns... You can feel completely capable in one moment, and like everything is falling apart in the next (but maybe that's just me being dramatic?). Thanks to social media, you will probably feel inadequate at times - like you're not doing enough work or you're not reaching the potential customers you want to.
⟢ PEOPLE SURPRISE YOU ⟣
Some people can get a bit weird when you own a business or if you freelance. Customers might randomly cancel on you or challenge you on your prices. You might receive amazing support from some totally unexpected people, and perhaps you won't get the response that you hoped for from others. I've found that it's often easier to work with people who you don't already know, as they are more likely to deal with you professionally. My advice? Try to give your family and friends the same service you would give to any other customer and follow your usual procedure.
⟢ Q&A ⟣
I think a lot of artists I know don't really know how to value themselves and their work.
I think this comes from the fact that it's hard to feel legitimate when you first start out. You feel like you haven't yet reached the level of professionalism you aspire to but I think, as a creative at least, you're constantly evolving. So, it's best to just roll with it.
I'm really interested to know how do you determine pricing for your work?
For me, there are a few things to factor in, like time and material costs, meaning paper, pencils, paints, Adobe membership, if the work is digitally edited. There is also framing or packaging to consider, plus postal charges which are determined by the post office and not me. Original drawings have more worth than prints too, as do custom artworks.
How do you separate your work and personal time when at home?
I use a diary religiously. If I don't plan out time to relax, then I overwork myself. So, a to-do list is must-have for me. I really like getting out of the house on my full days off, just so I'm not tempted to do a little bit. Luckily, I have a good social life now.
Do you think it's balanced?
It's far better than it used to be. I've learned not to go about my work with this crazy sense of urgency that I think I developed as a student at university! It's taken a long time to unlearn my habits and get into a healthier groove. I still struggle to switch off though.
The best bit of advice that I can give you to take away from this is: have perspective. There is good and bad in every situation. If you're considering an independent career move, or if you're already a freelancer like me, then always trust your instincts and make the best possible decision that you can make at the time. I think self-employment tends to be a rocky road, but it is a rewarding one.