The below are some of the questions that inevitably arise during conversation with non-freelancers. I love getting questions about my freelance life – it’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s important that everyone understand that it’s an option that might work for them (and it’s important that 9 – 5ers understand the difference between the myths and realities of the freelance lifestyle!).
Some questions that I’ve encountered recently (and my answers to them):
Q1: Are you unemployed?
A1: No. I chose to become a full-time freelance editor and writer. I chose to quit my full-time non-profit job, and I chose to not get another full-time job in another field or with another organization. Becoming a freelancer was my choice. I am not unemployed. I just have clients rather than an employer.
Q2: You can’t find much work with an arts degree, huh?
A2: This one is along the same lines as Q1. I often joke with my friends that arts degrees are useless when applied to the real world – but to be honest, when I say that, I’m really just joking around. I don’t think it’s true that arts degrees are useless when looking for a job. When I had very little experience in my field in the “real world,” I was hired on by a public relations company, for example. And over the years, I have obviously been able to get enough freelance work from clients that I can freelance full-time! It’s partly about being in the right place at the right time, partly about knowing where and how to look for work that’s relevant to your field, and partly about perseverance.
Q3: How do you get work done when you’re working from home? I’d procrastinate on everything!
A3: This is probably the most common question that comes up. Most people relate it to their own experiences: I can’t imagine not working a 9-5 job or I need someone else to give me work; I don’t know how to look for work to do or I wouldn’t be able to hunt for work all the time or Everything at home is too distracting! I wouldn’t be able to get work done.
Maybe it’s because I worked freelance part-time for so many years, or perhaps it’s just a carry-over from my university days (or from when I first started blogging), but this has never been an issue for me. Working from home is extremely natural. Sure, I have other hobbies that I could engage in at home, such as reading, sewing, or learning French, but ultimately, I don’t get distracted when working from home. Sure, I’ll do a load of laundry or vacuum or wash some dishes in the middle of the day, but those are my breaks from work. Similarly, since social media is a large part of my business, it’s not really a waste of time for me or a way of avoiding work (unless I’m on a site like iwastesomuchtime.com. That is completely unrelated to business and purely for an entertainment break. :)).
Q4: So… how are you doing? How is business going?
A4: Awwww. This is always asked in the kindest, most motherly, concerned tone possible. It’s very sweet of you to be worried about me! The truth is, business is constantly changing. I might have no “work” (that is, no clients calling me up to ask me to take on projects) for days, and then four clients will express interest at the same time (and all need said projects completed within 48 hours).
During the down time when I don’t have clients or prospective clients contacting me, it provides me with the opportunity to do big-picture planning, network, and look for new prospects. Therefore, it’s kind of tricky to say how well business is really going at any given time (besides the fact that I never really count my chickens until the cheque has been deposited after the project is complete and the money is in my bank account). But I’m doing okay! I wouldn’t be in this business if it wasn’t working for me.
Q5: Do you miss working in an office?
A5: No. I absolutely, 100% do not miss working in a traditional 9 – 5 office job. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had the pleasure of working in some awesome office environments with wonderful people. But I also really like that I can construct my own hours so that I can maximize my productivity at certain times of the day (in the morning and evening), rather than feel like I’m dragging my feet and not getting much done in the afternoons, like I used to (fun fact: I would often schedule meetings or plan to focus on more mindless tasks in the afternoon when I worked in an office job, because those were what I could best focus on at that time of day. Who can actually work for 8 hours straight with just a brief lunch break and not hit a few unproductive slumps?).
Moreover, I like that I have so much more energy to do things like attend networking events and social situations. I like that I get to choose (to an extent) the type of work that I do. I love being my own boss.
Q6: How did you become a freelancer?
A6: This question generally comes up when I meet new people. And the answer… well, how does one become anything? Life circumstances and our goals and ambitions move us in different life directions! But, to put it plainly, for me (and, I think, for many freelance editors and writers), I came to being a freelancer through a) getting a degree related to this field, b) finding part-time work related to my field, and c) realizing I loved my part-time freelancing work so much that I wanted to do that all the time, so I made the leap. This is ultimately a really big question (and one which I’ll be answering with one of my books, which I plan to release within the next year!), but that’s the short-form answer for now.