Pros & Cons of Freelance Artist Life, and 3 Steps To Get You Started...

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Over the past few years, the idea of freelance work has become increasingly attractive and increasingly possible. More businesses are operating entirely online, more creative work is contracted out to freelance artists; there is a solid freelance artistic sector and it is growing fast.

From writers to illustrators, many people can become freelancers. All you need is the determination, drive and perseverance to pull it off! Being a freelancer is rewarding in many regards: you can set your own hours, maintaining a flexible schedule that can be set around other responsibilities. You can also take on more work when you are free, and take on less work when you are busy! What’s more – and the most obviously attractive part of freelancing – is you can work remotely. This means you can continue to work whilst you’re on the road, making freelancing the perfect career for a traveller – or you can work from home if you’re a parent or have other responsibilities that make commuting difficult! Whatever your reason, freelancing makes you considerably freer and in control of your life than a regular 9-5.

However, there are of course some negatives. Freelancing often means you are paid by the work you complete rather than per hour – so you have to be productive all of the time, or risk losing time and money! If you’re prone to procrastination and need a boss breathing down your neck to meet deadlines, you won’t do well as a freelancer. There’s also no steady wage – you may have dry spells, where you’ll have to rely on your savings. This is why it’s a good idea to have a bit of a back up whilst you get started freelancing. Don’t make it your full-time job straight away!

We’re going to look at each of these pros and cons in a bit more detail. So, if you’re in a full-time job and interested in exploring the possibilities of freelance working, you’ve come to the right place. Freelance work is slightly different depending on what work you do and what clients you work with, but there are some general rules that you should know before making the jump to freelancing.

What it’s like to be a freelance artist

The life of a freelance artist might be attractive to someone working in a full-time office job, but it comes with its own challenges.

Pro: Work for yourself

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As a freelancer you’re finally free to organize your work life however you want. That means doing your work whenever and wherever you want, whether that be a cafe early in the morning or at home late at night.

You can organize your life around what matters most to you – rather than being stuck in an office from 9am to 5pm everyday! Some people work better late at night, so you can have the whole day free and then get down to work in the evenings. For others, you may prefer an early start and then having the afternoon and evening to relax. Whatever way works best for you, you’re finally free to follow it!

This is particularly useful if you have children – you can organize your working day around their schedule, finishing when you have to pick them up from school. It’s also great if you’re moving around. You can even fit in your workday as a traveller when you’re on various forms of transport (airport lounges, trains, buses!) so that you never miss a beat and can enjoy each destination fully when you get there. It’s also great if you want to fit freelancing around another job – whenever you have the free time, you can do some work for a freelancing client.

Realistically, your client is your boss – but as long as you get the work done for when they need it, you can honestly do it whenever you please. The middle of the night. The weekend. They don’t care as long as it’s done!

Con: Home becomes work

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The potential downside of being able to work everywhere and anywhere is that you feel obliged to work all the time. A lot of freelancers say they find it hard to separate their work and home lives, meaning they don’t feel like they can really leave their work behind in the same way office workers can.

You may feel like you have to take every piece of work offered to you, and find yourself working all hours on different projects for different clients. Since there’s no ‘office hours’, clients may message you at all times of the day! One way to solve this is to set very clear boundaries, just as if you work in an office. That might look like taking weekends and evenings off after a certain time, and not checking your emails at all during your time off!

Pro: Variety

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As a freelancer, you’re able to vary your workload with different projects and clients, meaning you’ll rarely be stuck doing the same thing day in, day out. If you are, you can always look for another opportunity to spice up your schedule.

No two days will ever be the same – as a freelance editor, you might look at articles for a blog one day and then a novel the next. As a writer, you might be writing for pet food websites and then for SEO marketing eBooks! No matter what field you are freelancing in, you’ll certainly not be bored.

You even have the freedom to pick and choose your own projects (once you get up and running!). That means you will only have to do work you genuinely care about, or work that’s interesting to you. If you don’t enjoy working on a project, or with a client, you can politely and professionally decline to do anymore work. If you’re not interested in a project, you can turn it down.

Con: Juggling clients

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With more clients comes more responsibility. While you might have more variety in your workload, taking on a wide range of projects essentially means you’re taking on multiple bosses that may have conflicting requirements and deadlines.

This can be stressful, especially because many clients don’t appreciate that you have other work to do! What’s more, you might not have the luxury of turning down projects – for income reasons, you might be accepting everything that comes your way, whether you like the project/client or not.

It can also be hard to find new projects when old, steady projects end, as they invariably do. I once had a steady client for 6 months who suddenly stopped sending me work one week – and after I asked why, told me the project had finished! Thanks for the warning!

Pro: No income cap

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With freelance work, the sky is the limit when it comes to earning potential. Since you can work anywhere and any time, you’re not constrained to a single paycheck as you can take on as many jobs as you like. As you improve you can charge more for your services, essentially meaning there’s no limit to your income.

“Working a regular paycheck job, you know your income each year, apart from the odd bonus or raise. It’s all predictable (and safe, we might add!). As a freelancer, your only limits are your own ability, desire and time. If the work you do is in high demand, you can make a lot of money from freelancing – more than working for one employee! It all depends on how ambitious you are and how fast you can do work,” says Liam Smith, a tech blogger at UKWritings and Academized.

Con: No benefits

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While you avoid the constraints of a regular pay package, you also lose out on the benefits. As you likely won’t have any health insurance, sick pay or other regular benefits from your freelance work it’s up to you to budget for these eventualities, which can be challenging. As noted before, you also don’t have paid holidays… Like anyone who’s self-employed, time you take off equals unpaid leave. Many freelancers try to make up this gap by charging a bit more, so they can pay for their insurance, retirement and time off.

Pay can be very unpredictable – you can be paid right after completing a project, or up to 30 days afterwards. Clients might also not pay on time, which gives you more work trying to track down the money and make sure they pay up!

Pro: Work from Anywhere

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As noted before, you are a freelancer – you can work from anywhere! Gone are the days of the office cubicle and miserable hours spent staring at the same four gray wall! As a freelancer, you can work in cafes and restaurants of your choice, a nice library, your house – heck, you can even work in a park or your garden if your laptops charged!

In the same sense, you can work for employers based anywhere – they don’t need to be local, in fact they can be halfway across the world! What with hi-speed internet connections and video conferencing, working from anywhere and for anyone has never been easier. You can finish a project and have it uploaded for the client within 30 minutes.

“Picture the scene: you’re in a café in Paris, lazily sipping café au lait with a view over the Seine. You’ve just submitted your last piece of work for the morning (to a client in South America) and now you’ve got the whole day to explore the city. Sound appealing? You bet it does!” says Gillian Macy, a freelance writer at Eliteassignmenthelp and State Of Writing.

Con: Isolation

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As a freelancer, you will mostly be working alone. You might meet a client for lunch or coffee, but on the whole communication will be over Skype, email or messenger. This kind of isolation can wear on you emotionally. As we are all surely realizing in 2020, isolation isn’t good for most people! Long hours working on projects from your house or a café can get tiresome, and you may find yourself wishing for the banter of the office, the welcome breaks talking to your coworkers, and even the long commutes!

It can also be depressing to not get projects or go through a dry spell. The unpredictability in pay, paired with the stress of trying to get new projects and isolation of working alone can make freelancing a difficult life.

3 Steps to become a successful freelance artist

If the Pros outweigh the Cons for you, and you’re interested in pursuing a career as a freelance artist, there are three initial steps you should take:

1. Define your goals

Figure out exactly what you want to achieve with your freelancing. Do you want to supplement your income, build your portfolio, or turn this into your main job? What specific area(s) are you looking to work in? What are your skills, talents, what can you add to the market?

2. Plan, plan, plan

Freelancing without a plan is a surefire way to get nowhere fast. Being your own manager means making careful plans of where you’re going to look for work, how you’re going to sell yourself and how much work you can and want to achieve in a given time.

3. Learn your environment

Whatever kind of freelance work you want to be involved in, it’s important you learn as much about the field as possible. Research platforms for freelance work, learn how other successful freelancers sell themselves, figure out what kind of work is in demand. Knowledge is power.

Final note

This is only really scratching the surface of the life of a freelance artist, but hopefully, it’s enough to pique your interest. Now it’s time to discover more about the art you love and how you can get paid to do it!

Katherine Rundell is a professional writer at Management assignment help Australia and Top assignment writing services in Queensland. She specializes in all kinds of topics relating to alternative working solutions. She also works as an educator at PhD Thesis Writing, where she shares her personal experiences and gives advice to beginner writers uncovering all the peculiarities of creating content that sells.

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