After the jump
NOTA: SI HABLAS ESPAÑOL PUEDES DISFRUTAR DE LA NOTA AQUÍ.
Hello there, dears! I disappeared for a while but I'm back with a new post about my experience being freelance full-time after a couple of months.
First, what is to be “freelance”?
They are the happiest people on earth. I'm kidding. Actually, they are people who work independently. They are not attached to one employer, company or agreement. Freelancers usually charge their work per hour or project. They are a brand, company and administration in one and usually they are a pro in a specific field of their profession.
Why being freelance?
It's not the same to be a freelance that killing a little tiger*(In spanish this makes more sense, I promise). Being a freelance is to fully dedicate to yourself as a brand and business. I like to be in control of my time, my clients and the projects I decide to work on.
Being freelance allows you to decide who you want to work with. If the project does not go with your values it’s ok to say no and that's it. You can set your own rules and deadlines (even though it sounds pretty good it is not that easy all the time)
*To Kill a little tiger: It's a really old venezuelan saying that means you will do a small project or commission aside from your office job.
Being employed vs. Being freelance
I decided to be a freelancer because I was tired of overworking. I was depressed, tired and sad. I have worked in agencies where my schedule is set by the needs of my client to later go home and work on things that I actually love or for an extra cash. So my days ended at 11-12pm or later, plus all my adulting chores and shit.
Before I left Venezuela my weeks were like this: I had two demandings jobs at the same time, freelance at night, classes or workshops some days and saturday photography classes. It was super cool, not.
Then in Bogota it was easier but the sudden change of pace got me crazy, suddenly I had all this time without nothing to do and not much money. So I went back to the same: work, freelance, classes, work, freelance, classes, work, freelance, work, freelance, work, work, freelance, work, freelance, freelance… An infinite loop of misery. From sunday to sunday.
When did I rest or go out? Breaking News: never. Even when I had guests in my house, I was with the computer or locked in my office with the computer again, or I simply never went out. And if there was the slightest chance of getting out, I probably chose to stay at home sleeping.
Obviously I was miserable and I had to make a decision when I understood that I was dying in front of my computer. Of course, that whole situation was my fault because I was a crazy person looking for that. I was super sad so I kept myself really busy to keep me from thinking about it.
One day I was on the bus, on my way to my agency job and I asked myself: what am I doing? What do I really want to do? I want to be a freelance illustrator. So I jumped.
After a couple of months freelancing. What have I learned?
• The change of pace hit me: Again abruptly moving from the infinite loop of overworking and misery to having all this time to manage was not easy. I had to redefine my pace and it took me at least 3 weeks.
• Being your own boss can be overwhelming: Well, when I'm making all the decisions is not always easy, but for me it's a fresh new experience. Why? 'Cause I'm a control freak and sometimes it's difficult for me to make an agreement and not get it done. But being my own boss allows me to control all those things that I always thought I could manage better, of course when I'm wrong I'm the only one responsible and I have to deal with it.
• Staying organized is everything: My work doesn't depend only on talent and colors, I need to be organized. My office is surrounded by calendars, schedules and post-its. I use the bullet journal to have everything on point. If you want to know how I do it, tell me in the comments and I will tell you my secret in an upcoming post.
• I'm lazy af: Exercising is not my thing. But I've learned that I have to go out at least 3 times a week, whether it's to the mall or the near market to be able to give circulation to my body. And since I don't like to exercise, I clean my office and kitchen before I start working (It’s weird, I know) but these actions help me get my systems running before work.
Being creative vs. Being productive: This is key and an important step when I need to distribute my work hours. Whoever said you are more creative at night is because they still haven’t figured out the difference between creativity and productivity.
For me it's like this: AM-productive, PM-creative. Why? In the morning I'm doing my tasks at full speed. I'm more efficient and I go faster if the task is mechanical, that means something repetitive or that I already know how I should start it. But if I have to think or create ideas, my golden hour is at night. My brain is calm and clear of the things I must do to think about what I can create and then to write, to sketch, or share it, etc.
Taking online classes: I prefer face to face classes over online ones, but now I take all kinds of online courses because it's easier to schedule and I can take them wearing my PJ’s.
Flexibility is important: it is okay to set a schedule, but I can break it sometimes. I just take care of being on time with the deadlines I set for me and my clients.
• Investing in my personal brand and online presence: I'm currently not working just for clients, I must also work on my own content or brand, such as this blog or my instagram. That takes time but it's something necessary, it’s an investment for me and a space outside of clients that lets me think freely, the downside is that sometimes I am too tired to do so.
• Keeping track of time in my processes and having focus hours: there are many tools to time the processes and know how long it takes me to do some things so I can have a estimate time for commissions later. Also, the time tracking makes me feel pressured and helps me to have focus hours, where I dedicate myself to a specific task for some periods of time. For organizing and tracking I use my phone and also asana next to this time-tracking plug-in.
• People often think that working from home means a lot of free time, but no. It means willpower not to stay in your bed watching Netflix all day with pizza and a giant glass of coke.
• I need to take care of my posture when I sit my ass in front of the desk: I have a bad spine and I always have bad posture, but I have to remember to sit upright so I will not feel like an old lady at the end of the day.
Even though these are just a few lessons from a couple of months I have found it worthwhile to share. It has been an interesting and challenging experience for me to decide to change my pace of work for my well-being. 'Cause It's not only to pursue a goal, but also to decide for someone and that someone is me.
Choosing myself for health, well-being or happiness is a personal challenge because it's not letting me be carried by life, work and shit like that, to stop for a moment and look around to see if that is really where you want to be.
It was an especially difficult decision and it required organizing a lot of planning. Don't believe that I threw myself into the freelance pool without preparing myself. I needed at least a few months of savings and a client base.
I leave you here, I hope you liked this post and let me know in the comments below if you like it and want to read about how to go from disaster to super organized with the Bullet Journal.
Note: No tigers were hurt in the making of this post.
Remember to share it and follow me on my social media to see more about my work and when I cook banana bread. ;)
Special thanks to my friend Sofia Vermes. She always help me with the translations. Follow her on Instagram. <3