What Is It Like To Be A Freelancer?

There’s no doubt about it:

The freelance workforce is exploding right now.

With over two million active freelancers in the UK alone, the sector has seen a 36% growth since the 2008 financial crisis.

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic) and the subsequent shift to remote work), the sector shows no signs of slowing down.

If you’re thinking about going it alone as a creative professional, you’re probably wondering what freelance life is actually like. Is it more rewarding than working to 9-5? Is it more challenging than the average person might expect?

In this edition of Freelancers’ Corner, we’ve once again brought together our incredible global freelance community to provide some insight on what freelance life is truly like.

Ready? Let’s get started!

What Is It Like To Be A Freelancer?

Vlad Savva, Music Composer in Russia (VladSavva)

Like a snake in a pan! While it’s great to have freedom in your career, keep in mind you’ll have many duties outside of the work itself (finding jobs, talking to clients, planning projects, etc.)

Here, Vlad stresses that freelance life comes with much more responsibility than working a traditional 9-5.

While you’ll have the luxury of making your passion your work, you’ll also need to wear several different hats to ensure your business runs smoothly. As well as being a creative freelancer, you’re also a:

  • Manager
  • Customer Success Executive
  • Marketing Executive
  • HR Manager
  • Administrator

As a freelancer, a major part of your day-to-day life will be spent wearing several different hats and running the various different facets of your business. It’s important to keep this in mind if you’re considering making the leap to freelance work.

Jelena Vukolic, Designer in Serbia

It can be very hard and it’s certainly not for everyone. You have to love what you’re doing more than anything else, because a lot of experiences from the freelance world could destroy your love and passion for what you do if it’s not strong enough.

Here, Jelena stresses that being a freelancer can take a toll on your passion.

While you’ll be able to work on your passion for a living, you’ll also need to manage the business side of things and generate a consistent income, which can place significant pressure on your craft.

Jelena goes on to explain how resilience and persistence are crucial qualities for freelancers:

You’ve got to have thick skin because rejection is a part of freelance life. You’ll experience way more rejection than acceptance; sometimes you’ll experience multiple rejections in one day (and sometimes every day for a whole month). You have to be brave; never give up and believe in yourself when no one else does.

Raf Tad, Animator in Armenia

Living your life to the fullest!

Raf is quick to highlight the benefits of a full-time freelance career:

Being able to work on your passion for a living is an extremely rewarding experience. Similarly, freelancing offers several unique benefits that the average 9-5 doesn’t, including:

  • The ability to work flexible hours
  • Being able to choose which projects you work on
  • Being able to work remotely

With up to 60% of freelancers reporting high job satisfaction, there’s no doubt that a freelance career can truly enable you to live life on your own terms.

John Meiring, Animator in the UK

In one word, exciting! Stressful, but exciting at the same time.

By nature, freelancing is an uncertain profession.

While many freelancers will have a few weeks of work booked in advance, they never truly know where their next job is coming from (or what it’ll entail).

Freelancers commonly work on a wide variety of projects with a wide variety of clients, often with a healthy dose of pressure to get the job done. While it can certainly be stressful at times, many freelancers find this side of the job exciting.

Kyle Misko, Composer in New York

It’s challenging, yet rewarding. Not for everybody but I’d definitely recommend it.

Kyle also stresses how a freelance career is both challenging and rewarding.

However, he interestingly notes how a freelancer’s experience will largely depend on if they’re cut out for freelancing or not. 

If you’re someone who thrives under pressure and is comfortable in uncertain situations, you’re bound to find excitement in freelancing. However, if you prefer stability and consistency, there’s a good chance you’ll find freelancing stressful.

Like anything else, life as a freelancer depends largely on your outlook and personality; if you’re well-suited to the nature of the job, you’re certain to thrive in your freelance career.

Jake Schneider, Music Producer in the UK

Exciting, great, satisfying and fulfilling. At the same time, unpredictable and a sense of not knowing what the future holds (which can also be a great thing!)

In a similar vein to John and Kyle, Jake notes how freelancing can be both fulfilling and unpredictable.

He also stresses how the unpredictable nature of freelancing can be a source of excitement, provided you’re cut out for it.

Matt Banky, Songwriter in the UK

Awesome! You get to do the thing you love every day.

Matt highlights the sense of fulfilment that comes from making your work your passion. He also goes on to explain how positive client feedback can be a rewarding aspect of the job:

I love making a client’s vision come true. It’s awesome hearing people say things like “wow, you made it sound even better than I imagined it in my head!”

Yevgeniya Tyumina, Videographer in Spain

It’s great! You can run errands during traditional office hours and take a nap whenever you want, but you have to pay for the coffee yourself.

Yevgeniya explains how freelancing allows you to play by your own rules.

Without a boss to report to, you’re able to work flexible hours and choose the nature of the work that you take on.

However, not having a boss to report to means that you are responsible for your own work ethic. While you can stroll around town all day if you’d like to, you might not be able to afford a coffee if you’ve been neglecting your client work.

While you should definitely take advantage of the flexibility that freelancing offers, it’s still important to remain disciplined and productive with your projects in order to generate a good income.

Florence Hill, Musician in the Dominican Republic

It’s quite fun, and exciting! It has its ups and downs. You never know what to expect, it’s an adventure for me, as a singer-songwriter in many languages.

Florence also highlights the exciting, yet uncertain nature of freelancing. She goes on to explain how this has led to significant growth in her freelance career:

I’ve had a great deal of growth, with the challenges that some works present. Which each work, you learn more and more about what you do and how to improve quality in any way possible. I recently graduated from med school in my country but I’m currently unemployed. This is a little source of income where I can help my family a bit.

And there you have it! A full breakdown on exactly what freelancing is like. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out some of the other posts in our Freelancers’ Corner series?

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