HR 16 February 2017

Why freelancing full-time can be worth it in the long-run

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Freelancers contribute around £109bn to the UK economy a year

Writing for Business Advice, marketing executive turned freelance copywriter, Emma Saldanha, discusses her career and why there’s never been a greater chance for those interested in freelancing to go full-time.

It is a great time to be a freelancer, organisations both large and small are realising the benefits of outsourcing some of their tasks to experts.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-employed (IPSE) reported recently that 1.91m people work as freelancers, contributing £109bn to the UK economy.

Being a freelancer is not an easy ride though. As the freelancing economy grows, more and more people are entering into it. This makes it harder for freelancers to stand out and be unique.

Freelancers can experience periods of boom and drought, some weeks they can be working with lots of clients, making good money, and some weeks they may have no work at all.

Why would somebody with a stable job want to give this up and become a freelancer? My personal experience may help explain why.

I have been described as cautious, risk adverse and even straight-laced. Taking risks is something I don’t really believe in. I have applied this philosophy to every aspect of my life.

I chose to do a degree in something that I knew I could make a living from, even though I wasn’t that interested in the subject.

I have got to say that this mind-set has treated me pretty well. I have never found it difficult to find a job and I do pretty well in these jobs. But, I have always felt a craving to do more than what I was doing. This feeling has lead me to leave these jobs and go elsewhere hoping that this feeling would subside, but it never has.

Until, I had a chance meeting with somebody at networking event. I didn’t know this person but we got talking and she explained that she was a freelancer and how much she loved it. I started to think that maybe this is what I have been looking for in me professional life.

And, now that I have tipped my toe into the freelancing world I have to admit, it is what I have been looking for.

How am I sure this is what I want to do? I can only describe the feeling I have for freelancing as an addiction. I go to bed thinking about it and the first thing I do when I wake up is check my emails to see if any clients have got in touch. I have never felt this passion for “regular” work.

Follow your heart

Honestly, I am sick of hearing this phrase from people. Yes, I would love to follow my heart and become a full-time freelance copywriter. But unfortunately, life is getting in the way.

A house, car and two kids – that all need money in order to run effectively, means that giving up my paid employment is not an option at the moment.

So, I am effectively working two jobs at once. As well as working my day job I am carrying out freelancing work any spare minute I can find. On the train to and from work, lunch time, in the evening and some on the weekend as well.

Is it fun working two jobs?

Yes and no. The freelancing work I do is fun and I love the feedback I get from clients, but working as a freelancer alongside a day job is exhausting.

I have to fit in the work around my family life and that means I can’t do as much as I would like.

Plus, there are all the little extra things you have to do as well. Becoming a freelancer effectively means you become self-employed.

You have to register as a sole trader with HMRC and make sure that you keep accurate financial records and keep a certain amount of money aside for tax.

If you have always been an employee (like me) this takes some time to get your head around.

Then, there is the task of building your company brand, designing a website, marketing your services, building up your social media following and most important of all, finding clients.

At the moment I probably spend more time on these business development tasks then I do writing.

Short-term pain for long-term gain

Freelancing is an incredibly competitive environment, there is always somebody who is more qualified or experienced than you are. But with saying this, I have found that I have received incredible support from other freelancers.

Many of whom are going through a similar situation to me. They are working their day job to support their freelance work. Until the time comes when they earn enough from freelancing to support themselves.

As one freelancer described it, it’s a short-term pain for a long-term gain. And, the gains are really worth it if you are prepared to work for them.

As a freelancer I am looking forward to working with a variety of clients in different geographical locations, working on different projects, achieving a better work-life balance and (hopefully) earning more than I am currently.

For the moment though I continue to work my towards my goal of being a full-time freelancer.

Emma Saldanha has been freelancing for nine months and has worked in marketing for more than ten years. She plans to continue working as a marketing executive until she can afford to go freelancing full-time. 

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