The Unexpected Perks Of Being A Freelancer
Being a freelancer has opened up a whole world for me, professionally. Which is what I had hoped for when I began, and what drew me to freelancing in the first place. We all know those benefits: being able to work from home, no commute, having control over what projects you take, being able to set your own rate, no boss, ect.
In the past six years, what has amazed me the most have not been the expected benefits, but the completely unexpected perks of freelancing I never knew about. It took time to recognize them, but once I did I found myself even happier about those perks than I ever had been about the standard positives.
Everyone who is self-employed will have their own list. This is mine.
Being Able To Say ‘No’
I used to be a serious people-pleaser. Whether it was professionally or personally, I couldn’t bring myself to say no. I was always trying to make people happy, and given my lack of selectivity, there was a deficit on the side of returns for my generosity.
When I started freelancing, I had the same problem. I would constantly say ‘yes’ to clients I should have said ‘no’ to. Eventually, I got fed up and started denying projects, demanding more pay, and refusing to do anything that was not part of the original agreement without more money thrown in.
Assertiveness in my professional life began to leak into my personal life. Suddenly, I wasn’t so concerned about being liked by people around me. It started to become obvious that many of those that I came across in my daily life were just as draining and ready to exploit as those bad clients were. It made it easier to start cutting people from my life that I couldn’t have a fulfilling relationship with.
Now, I am still a people-pleaser. But only to those people who are worth pleasing.
Getting To Know Other Cultures
I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. While we do have other cultures here, the majority of people fall into the same categories. Those who are a part of another culture that I interacted with through my life were usually second generation, so we were on pretty much the same page. As a consequence, my exposure to people was limited.
My first exposure to others on a real one-on-one basis came from my working with both clients and other freelancers from around the world. Long time colleagues became friends, and I was exposed to those little differences that are present between countries. It was an interesting experience that I expanded on through eventual travel.
Finding New Passions
Before I started working for a blog related to upcycling and conservation through second hand buying, I had no idea that I would love DIY work. Now, whenever I need something like clothes, furniture or decor, I go to the second hand shop first. Buying items have become projects, as I hand craft new items from old ones. I find it extremely relaxing and fun.
In fact, I have ended up with a fair few hobbies and life skills I never would have found had I not written about them. Several of my freelancing friends have had the same experience. One web designer I know ended up building his first kite after being hired to create a hobby website. He now runs a small team that flies kites every weekend, and has apparently done some competitions over the years.
When you are a freelancer, you are exposed to new ideas all the time. Through projects, you can discover new passions you never would have suspected you had.
Learning To Stretch Money
I make a decent wage, but sometimes invoices aren’t paid on time. We all know how it goes.
One of the benefits of this constant state of waiting for money to come through is that I have learned to really stretch what I already have. I spend more cautiously, second guess purchases I make, and know how to wait for (or save for) items that I otherwise might have jumped into buying before I could afford it.
I also stress less about money, funny enough. There have been some tough months in my past, and I got through them just fine. Before I started freelancing things were much worse. Yet I made it through those times, as well. What reason do I have to be stressed, when I now it will work out?
Learning to juggle and balance money has been a major perk of freelancing I never expected.
The Sense Of Accomplishment
Every day, I feel accomplished. Sure, that feeling is occasionally mixed with frustration, anxiety and exasperation, but mostly it is the sense of having done something great. I get to do something I love, on my own terms. That is the best perk, of all.
What are your unexpected perks of freelancing?
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Zeldman
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