This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
“Can you come and help me with…”
It’s a common thing you hear from people around you. In their minds, you're a freelancer with all the time in the world so why not spending some on their needs, right? You’re screwing around on that stupid laptop anyway.
I bet the following conversation will sound familiar to every freelancer who has worked from home:
“Hey man! Where have you been? What you’re doing?”
“At home, working.”
“C’mon…stop being ridiculous. You said it yourself that you are now free as a bird. Who you’re kiddin’?”
THUS, THE PREMISE
A freelancer’s appearance as available at all freakin’ times to his or her closest social environment has been created by that same freelancer.
In our arrogance to show how much smarter we are than those who are still busting their backs from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, we brag about our flexible schedule, incomes that far exceed even the most lucrative salaries, and the abundance of free time.
All people hear is FREE TIME!
In reality, we have far less free time than our peers who are still a 9-5 employee.
Because we are always seeking for something more! Aside from the never-ending search for new contracts, we are always on a lookout for the gold mine(s) which will ultimately set us free and automate our incomes once and for all.
That spells extended working hours and extremely tight schedule. In that reality, there’s a little room for family and friends. Pretty soon, all hell breaks loose.
When s* * * hits the fan and you realize that you’re gonna miss the deadline, you slam your fist on the table once and some disturbance appears. But it’s short-lived. Then you slam the desk for the second time, only this time you put some force in it. Wrinkles in the atmosphere around you start taking the shape of the waves now and people around you suddenly stand frozen.
“What the hell is going on with him? He was OK while he was working same as the rest of us. Look at him now. Arrogant bastard… no time for anyone anymore…”
THUS, THE ADVICE!
When you decide to go pro with freelancing, don’t make this same mistake. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to waste time and energy making things right and teaching people how the fact that you’re in your own freakin’ living room, at your own freakin’ laptop, typing or designing stuff, doesn’t automatically mean that you’re available!
On the contrary, you’re extremely busy and focused because unlike most people in your closest social environment, you have little to no room for errors.
Try the following approach instead:
“What you do for a living now Joe? I heard you quit? What the hell man?”
“I started my own company, Mike.”
“What’s the business?”
“Marketing/Graphic Design/Software Engineering….”
“Sure. But then again, 10-hour shift on my old job was a blessing from the skies for this, my man. I hardly catch time to take a whizz, if you know what I mean.”
Another thing to consider
Lease the space! Get yourself an office if in any way possible.
It’s gonna A) boost your productivity, and B) minimalize distractions.
The problem with living rooms as “offices” is their very nature and the purpose. It’s the space intended to be used by every resident without any restrictions. A place to retreat to after a long and exhausting day at work.
By utilizing the living room, or any other space in your home for that matter, for any kind of a professional occupation, you’re changing the paradigm of the home. In other words, there is a strong possibility that you will lose that one place where you can relax and forget about everything. Your own safe haven.
And it’s not just you who will suffer the consequences.
If you decide to operate from your living room, don’t be surprised when the rest of the household labels you as the usurper. In their minds, you are illegally occupying the main space.
Quarrels with the family members and spouse, in particular, are definitely not something that will help boost your professional freelancing career. I know this for a fact.
Professional freelancing shouldn’t be perceived as some side gig. It’s a full-scale entrepreneurship if you want to make a living out of it. As such, it must obey the paradigm and rules of engagement of every business.
Just think about it for a second. There isn’t a boss anymore to supply you with the work. There isn’t a boss anymore to organize your working schedule. You’re on your own same as every other business owner out there.
Then again, when you set the environment right and adjust your own perception, no other occupation comes even near the pro freelancing.
Igor Katusic is a former detective, behavioral specialist, geopolitical and business analyst, entrepreneur, columnist and ghostwriter. Working as a pro freelancer for over a decade now.