While it’s impossible (and unadvisable) to generalise about any one group of people, it’s fair to say that many freelancers share a sense of freedom when it comes to their working life. Freelancing – whether in the professional translation sector or elsewhere – means you can build your own schedule, choose which projects you work on and which you don’t, balance work and childcare flexibly, take days off when you feel like it and enjoy myriad other benefits. It’s why many freelancers have a rather smug air about them.
Of course, it’s not all roses and fairy dust. Most freelancers get no paid holiday and no sick pay. There’s a lack of income security. Clients phone them during dinner or on holiday and expect instant (and courteous) assistance. Finding holiday cover can be a pain. Some clients don’t pay their bills on time, or at all. And then there are those long, long evenings spent working to complete a project while it feels like everyone else in the world is out enjoying the sunshine.
However, it seems that freelancers on the whole are happier than their non-freelance counterparts. AND CO surveyed independent workers across a range of professions earlier this year and found that 68% felt that their lifestyle had improved since going freelance.
The AND CO survey also found that freelancers are an incredibly versatile group. 95% sell multiple skills. This in itself could be one reason why freelancers tend to be such a happy bunch – the sheer variety of being able to sell multiple skills makes for an exciting working life. No two days need ever be the same.
It is no surprise that the 77% of the individuals surveyed by AND CO reported feeling less financially stable since going freelance. Freelance careers don’t often come with the job security, bonuses and pensions that fulltime work can offer. Interestingly though, the fact that 68% of survey respondents advised that their quality of life had improved since going freelance indicates that many freelancers consider lifestyle benefits to be more important than financial security when it comes to their quality of life.
A recent survey by Tomedes adds further weight to this position. We asked freelance translators what motivates them and just 16% listed money as their priority. Far more reported that love of language (50%) and flexible working hours (23%) were their main motivation for working freelance in the translation services sector.
The AND CO survey found that 41% of freelancers plan to maintain their freelance lifestyle forever, regardless of which opportunities come their way. More (53%) are prepared to flex their future freelancing plans depending on the opportunities that the future holds. Interestingly, only 6% of those surveyed reported working freelance simply out of necessity until an alternative opportunity presented itself.
The results indicate the progress that freelance workers have made in recent years. Freelancing is booming – so much so that in countries like the UK, governments are seeking out new ways to tax the self-employed. Freelancing is no longer something taken on as a stop-gap in between fulltime jobs. Rather, it is a whole new career path that offers a wealth of exciting possibilities and lifestyle benefits to those brave enough to take the plunge.
How long have you been working freelance? Are you happier as a freelancer than you were as an employee? And having tasted the freelance lifestyle, would you ever go back? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below – we’d love to hear what you think of freelancing in general and freelance translation in particular.