I talk about my design career quite a lot here on the blog, but I don't think I've touched on my feelings about working freelance. It's funny, because I went from school to university and have gone straight into trying to make it as a freelancer, I have never really experienced a 9-5 job. Of course I have had many part time pay-the-bills jobs, mainly in hospitality and retail... but in terms of a secure "grown-up" job - not so much. So I definitely don't feel qualified to comment on which is a better lifestyle, but I thought I'd share a bit about the pros and cons that I have experienced so far.
>>> Freedom - within reason, I choose the jobs I take on and the direction I want to go in. I also choose how I want to work and the methods I use. It's a very nice feeling.
>>> Doing what I am best at - for a job! I love designing and can't imagine doing anything else. It's amazing to get paid for doing something I would happily do for free.
>>> Being my own boss - Of course as a freelancer I am hired by other people, so I do have collaborators and clients to answer to. But on the whole, I answer to myself. I set my own targets and deadlines and manage my own timetable.
>>> Flexibility - something that comes alongside being your own boss, I mostly decide how my week will look. If something comes up last minute, socially or otherwise, I can usually rework my schedule to fit it in.
>>> Variety - no project is ever the same, each brings its own set of challenges and learning curves. It's really fun to keep learning new things!
>>> New people and collaborations - I get to work in teams with so many amazing talented people. I love the feeling of all being in it together!
>>> Lack of security - freelancing is scary. Most of the time I don't know what I'll be working on in three months time (sometimes even in a weeks time!) and that is quite an unsettling thing.
>>> A lot of hard work - apart from the actual projects being hard work, the biggest effort is finding work in the first place. It takes a lot of "putting yourself out there" which is sometimes a bit exhausting.
>>> Never off the clock - when I am in the middle of a project, I am constantly designing in my head. There is always more work that could be done, so I basically never leave the office. The same is true of answering emails, researching and planning. Sometimes I wish I could just come home and leave my work at work!
>>> Self motivation - There is usually no one chasing me to meet deadlines, and I mostly work from home, so I have to be quite strict with my own time management and try to avoid distractions. This doesn't always happen...
>>> Dry spells - At the moment I still need a part time evening job to support myself as I can't pay my rent with my design earnings. I probably will still need this for a while, but it's not unusual and I've been lucky to have a part time job that I love for the past year.
>>> Tax returns. Enough said.
So that's what I think anyway, how about you? Any freelancers out there feeling the same way or differently?