I’m feeling a little introspective today.
Maybe it’s the weather (cool and rainy? In May? In the Mid-Atlantic? I am not a fan!) Maybe it’s getting ready to move (looking for a new apartment = exhausting.) Or maybe it’s the lack of changes right now (thought we’d be leaving Philadelphia this summer, turns out it will be next summer.)
It also might have something to do with the friend who asked me last week, “You’re self-employed? But that’s so risky, isn’t it?”
Whatever the cause, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this new life that I’m living, balancing freelance work and a creative lifestyle.
What makes me do it? What makes it worthwhile?
Pros & Cons of My Creative Lifestyle
Pro: What I can do is unlimited
One reason I went full-time freelance was because my day jobs were interfering with my ability to pursue my acting work. I had to turn down a wonderful opportunity, and thinking about it still stings. Now, there’s no reason I can’t pursue multiple types of work.
Con: Availability doesn’t always mean outcome
Of course, being available to pursue multiple types of work doesn’t always mean that it goes the way you want. I had clients scale back in April, and that was rough. I worked my way through audition season for local theatres, and I still don’t have any projects lined up. And I don’t have the comfort of blaming a boss for things not working out — every outcome rests squarely on my shoulders.
Pro: There’s always another path to take
That said, when one path doesn’t work out, I can easily jump on another. If I don’t have any theatre work lined up for this fall… well, it’s time to look at some more film, commercial, and tv! When I was working for other people, there was always a set way to do things. Now, I can branch out and decide for myself what comes next.
Con: Creative work can be exhausting
When you work for yourself, there is always more work to be done. I can spend all day writing, but I still have more marketing tasks on my to-do list. I can spend all day running between auditions, then come home and have four more hours of client work waiting for me. Because there’s always more to do, it can be hard to shut off at the end of the day or allow myself to take time off.
Pro: Scheduling flexibility
I got an email from a friend today about planning a beach trip next month. Several people had to check what their office’s time off policy was. My husband had to get in touch with some colleagues about covering his classes for a few days. Me? I just said yes! I know that I can work from anywhere, so I’ll bring my laptop with me and spend a few hours each day on work and the rest of the time on the beach. As long as I have an internet connection, I can go anywhere. That’s an awesome feeling.
Con: Income instability
As I confessed a little while ago, my income took a bit of a hit in April. It’s climbing back up, and I think it will soon be higher than it was before the downturn. But income instability a fact of freelancing life. We try to account for it with savings and multiple revenue streams, but there’s always a chance your clients will say, “See ya!” and leave you wondering where your next few paychecks will come from.
Pro: I can’t be “unemployed”
When that friend I mentioned asked me about the risk of being self-employed, I had to stop myself from laughing. Because the fact is that any job is risky. You can work anywhere and still wake up tomorrow unemployed. As a freelancer, though, I’m constantly marketing and constantly working. Even if I lose a client, I still have more work to do: more clients to reach out to, more blogs to pitch, more auditions to attend. I’m never unemployed, because I work for myself.
Pro: My life now reflects my priorities
When I to turn down that role last fall, I realized something was out of alignment. My schedule, the things I was committed to and made time for, did not reflect what mattered to me. Visiting family was difficult. Time with my husband and friends wasn’t happening. And I was having to let amazing opportunities pass me by. Now that I set my own schedule and work for myself, I can prioritize the way I want to, not the way someone else’s business requires.
Pro: Ability to work on my own projects
I think that if you don’t have time for personal projects, you aren’t really freelancing. You’ve just traded one boss (your former employer) for several (your clients). Now, I have time to pursue all sorts of things I’m excited about: writing a novel, working on some short stories, studying swing dancing, planning out a new authority website… I wouldn’t have time for all of that without my self-directed, creative lifestyle.
Pro: My life has a sense of adventure and possibility
I no longer feel awful when I wake up on Monday mornings. I no longer look at my calendar and want to cry because I’m running between so many obligations that I don’t actually care about. I no longer wake up in the morning unable to remember what day it is because my weeks are so hectic. I wake up energized (except on rainy days like today, when I want to stay in bed and read, but that’s just never going away.) I feel free. I feel like there are hundreds of exciting things and fun places and creative projects waiting for me to discover them.
That feeling is worth any number of cons you can throw at me.