After 5 years of freelancing full-time, I've been feeling a little burned out lately. I haven't been hitting my monthly income goals consistently and the endless hustling that comes with being a freelancer has started to wear on me a bit. I've experienced this feeling before and know that it's temporary, but sometimes it helps to focus on why I wanted to work for myself in the first place. Being my own boss as a full-time writer and editor is not perfect (no career is), but it still beats punching a clock every morning. Here are the top reasons I love being my own boss:
1. I'm in Charge of My Schedule
You know those mornings when you could really use an extra hour or two do deal with life stuff before heading into the office, but you don't have that option? After ten years of office jobs with rigid schedules, I reached a point where I just couldn't deal with that level of inflexibility anymore. I felt that as a responsible adult and dedicated, hard-working employee, I should have some say in my schedule. My supervisor disagreed, telling me that if I was allowed to set my own hours and occasionally work from home, everyone else would want the same freedom. And what was so wrong with that? I feel so strongly about the importance of flexibility in the workplace that I wrote a portfolio piece for Blogmutt called 5 Ways Flexibility at Work Helps Your Staff (And Your Bottom Line).
Being treated like a child who couldn't be trusted to have any autonomy began to eat away at me until I knew traditional 8-5 office life was not for me. Instead of waiting for my workplace to join the modern movement toward flexibility, I became my own boss and took control of my schedule. I work a lot and I work hard, but I work when I want to. If I want to take a morning off to go hiking with my dog, spend time with my nephew, or simply decompress with a good book or my yoga mat, I do just that. And I'm a better writer, editor, and business owner because of it.
2. I Don't Have to Work for Assholes
Is that too blunt? The truth is that I am not a very confrontational person. As an INFJ, I crave harmony and detest conflict more than most, which means I tend to be kind and easygoing, but also means I've sometimes been taken advantage of by bullies who do not share my distaste for confrontation. When I worked in a traditional office setting, I worked with and for many lovely souls, but I also had more than my share of abusive bosses. I had one boss who loved to scream and throw things when things didn't go his way, leaving me feeling powerless and scared. No one should ever feel that way at home OR work, but I needed the job and my boss held all the power in this situation.
One of the most empowering moments in my life came early on in my freelance career. After a slew of glowing reviews and great feedback from clients I encountered someone who didn't seem to know what they wanted, was impossible to please, and constantly tried to get away with not paying me for my work. I had an "aha moment:" I could (diplomatically, of course) fire them as a client, making space for a new client who valued my work and my talent and didn't make me lose sleep at night. I have been very lucky to almost exclusively attract writing and editing clients who are honestly delightful to collaborate with, but should another bully come my way I LOVE knowing I can cut them loose. They're a client paying me for a well-honed skillset, which is a very different thing from a boss. I'm my only boss, and I'm pretty great to work for. ;)
3. I Get Paid to Do What I Love
I've been obsessed with books, words, and telling stories since I was a tiny little girl getting lost in Laura Ingalls Wilder and my own made-up characters. I won contests and scholarships for my creative writing in high school and college, and have never gone long without putting pen to paper as a way to make sense of the swirling confusion of my imagination. At all of my office jobs, my bosses knew I could be counted on to proofread their reports and draft clearly worded memos and emails. I studied English in school and was recognized by my professors for my writing ability. And yet, the thought of calling myself a writer and getting paid to do what I loved seemed so damn audacious at first. Who did I think I was?! Five years later, supporting myself with my own talent and love of words feels just as miraculous as it did the first time I submitted a client invoice. I have a bad habit of being self-deprecating about my work, and completely separating the creative writing I work on for fun from the business writing I do to pay the bills. The truth is though, that I use my creativity and analytical abilities to craft fresh, engaging pieces that wow my clients every single day. And if you're a self-employed writer you do the same thing. How amazing is that?
4. I Have the Power to Make Things Better
When you work for someone else's business, you follow their business model, their business ethics, and the work-life balance they impose upon you. You get paid the salary they decide you're worth, you show up when they tell you to, and you take vacation when they decide you can do so. When you work for yourself, you are in charge of all these things and more, and that's the main idea that I need to remember and focus on right now. My main problems lately with freelancing full-time have been 1) not getting paid enough (I lost my highest paying client when they went in-house for copywriting and my replacement clients don't pay nearly as well) and 2) feeling isolated. The great news is I have the power to solve both of these problems. I can re-negotiate my rates and seek out clients with bigger marketing budgets. I can get back into networking and go to meetup groups. I'm even thinking about starting a happy hour for self-employed folks in my part of town, because even introverts need to be around like-minded souls on a regular basis. If you are also going through a phase where you feel a bit defeated, just remember to take your power back and change whatever isn't working. After all, YOU'RE THE BOSS.
Are you self-employed or aspiring to be your own boss in the near future? I'd love to hear what you think and if any of these reasons resonate with you . . . and possibly commiserate over an adult beverage if you happen to live in Denver.
No, not Tony Danza. YOU. Duh.