Freelancers are happier than salaried workers, make more money and work fewer hours, according to a recent Intuit study. According to the report, 65% of self-employed workers reported feeling greater ‘life satisfaction’ as a result of their career choice.
The benefits of freelancing – control over your own schedule, the ability to pick and choose your clients, no mean boss breathing down your neck – are certainly clear, but that doesn’t automatically make for a happy lifestyle. Indeed, there are certain elements that are essential to happy freelancing. Thankfully, many of these are also very easily achievable, as we explore below.
If your freelance work involves spending any time at all online, then you need a decent internet connection. Whether you’re researching a project, using an online dictionary as part of your professional translation work or networking through social media, every second you spend waiting for a webpage to load is a second wasted. So accept that this is one area where spending money on your infrastructure can’t be avoided and enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband for your every online action.
We all need support at times and the Freelancers Union has recently highlighted how important this is for those who work for themselves. If you don’t know people in your local area, why not make an effort to get to know them? Or, if you prefer, use fora, Facebook groups and so forth to connect online with those who share similar interests to you. That way, you’ll have people to bounce ideas off and someone to turn to should you have a freelance problem that you’re not sure how to tackle. You’ll also have like-minded people with whom to share the highs and lows of the freelance lifestyle.
Your choice of freelance career is also important. Happy freelancers are those who are pursuing their passion. Whether it’s copy editing or human translation that floats your boat, building your freelance career on something you love will ensure that you face the working day with a smile on your face.
Backing up your passion with appropriate skills is also essential. If you want to work as a translator, it stands to reason that you need excellent linguistic skills – if you don’t, then your freelance career is hardly likely to be very fulfilling!
It’s important to be realistic about freelancing. There are negatives as well as positives to the freelance lifestyle. Those just starting out might have to take on low-paying work in order to build up their reputation and/or client list. There’s no paid leave. Or sick pay. Clients can call in the middle of your dinner. The list goes on, but most freelancers find that they can work around these negatives and that they are outweighed by the far more positive elements of freelancing, as described above. Those who feel differently tend to return to salaried work before too long.
A good work/life balance is essential for happiness, regardless of the nature and details of your employment. However, for freelancers, work/life balance is something over which there’s a great deal more control than there is for salaried employees. If you want to work from 3 pm to 11 pm each day, go ahead! If you prefer to work three 12-hour days instead of five 7-hour days, who’s stopping you? Just make sure that you have the right balance for you – and if you don’t, change it!
Is there anything else that is essential for being a happy freelancer? What is it about freelancing that you really love? Share your thoughts via the comments to let us know.