For the past week or so I’ve had a bit of an inner struggle. A cool (albeit freelance) project has made me question whether or not I want to continue with this one-gig-to-another way of working. I realised I miss being part of something bigger, working together with other, inspring people towards an ambitious yet oh so exciting goal (world domination, obviously).
I also realised how fragile this whole being-your-own-boss situation is and how much you (ironically) depend on others for your survival. But then the week passed, I worked a lot and I got my thoughts together, a little at least.
Anyhow, enough of my ramblings now. I thought I’d turn my mini meltdown into something constructive and make a blog post out of it. Not that I’m in any way an expert, but I feel as though I’ve learnt a fair amount about what it takes, personality wise, to be able to deal with – and enjoy – freelance life. Here are 3 personality traits I think every freelancer needs to have.
1. Be Positive
I won’t lie, this is bloody difficult sometimes. Especially when you’ve just finished a project, or when you feel like your pipeline is drying out and you don’t know where to find new fuel to fill it up with. It requires a lot of my energy to constantly be on the lookout for that next project. Or to be my most bubbly self at every social gathering I go to, because I may potentially get some work out of it (I wrote about the importance of your network in a previous post, go here if you missed it). But hey, no one said it was going to be easy, right?
Luckily there also is this totally different side to being a freelancer. The side where you get to choose – most of the time anyway – what projects you want to work on, and better yet; when, where and how you want to do your work. There’s the excitement of not knowing beforehand what you’ll do three months from now and the endless variation between one client’s project and another. It’s a constant, sometimes brutal, learning process about yourself, forcing you to face your shortcomings in order to get better at what you do – pretty cool stuff.
To cut things short: It’s important to have a positive mindset to begin with if you want to become a freelancer. Sure, we can’t be all bubbly and happy 24/7, but your basic attitude to life needs to be positive and focused on opportunities. It really helps if you’re someone who looks at things from the bright side and don’t let minor setbacks get to you.
2. Be Disciplined & Well-Organised
This one is super important although I still struggle with it pretty much every day myself. The ultimate freedom also means you need heaps of discipline. It starts with getting out of bed and personally I love my bed in the mornings, so for me that’s where the battle begins. And it continues throughout the day: opening up your laptop only to spend at least half an hour catching up on your social media channels (and of course your personal blog), reading the newspaper headlines and the DailyMail gossip section… You see what I’m getting at?
It’s so easy to just potter the day away without getting anything done. So if you can’t bring yourself to be productive and focus on what it is you need to do – without someone breathing down your neck telling you to do so – the freelance thing isn’t for you. Not just because there are client deadlines to respect, but also because you depend on yourself entirely for all the rest: from sourcing new clients, to paying your bills & taxes and dealing with your accountant. On top of your actual work that is.
3. Be Open to Change (Always!)
A lot of people like to think they know what the day will bring work wise: no surprises. If you’re a freelancer however, it helps if you like surprises. In fact, I think I’d even go as far as to say you should be someone who needs change, it should be part of who you are. Because one of the few stable factors in your freelance life is the fact that things are constantly changing: your clients, your projects, the location you work from, your rates, your skills, pretty much everything. So as a person, you need to have a certain love for new things, always be eager to meet new people, curious to learn new skills and just generally be someone who’s open minded.
A Final Thought
I hope I haven’t made freelance life seem too daunting in this post. Don’t get me wrong: I love what I do and – most of the time – I very much enjoy the freedom it offers me. I don’t think it’s for everyone though and it’s something that needs to suit your personality. I haven’t fully figured it out myself yet either, but I do know that a positive attitude, a healthy dose of discipline and an open mind go a long way!
What personality traits do you think every freelancer needs to have? I’d be curious to know so let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!