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Going freelance

Do you have the creativity, discipline and resourcefulness to be a freelancer?
By Dante Gagelonia |

Every once in a while, you come across people who owe their allegiance to no single employer and observe no strict office hours. They work at their own pace and don’t get regular compensation. Yet they flourish, operating outside the safety nets granted to career professionals. These individuals are known as freelancers, and you can be one, too, if you have the discipline and the drive to navigate this way of life.

[related|post]Understand the industry
“Freelancer” is derived from “free-lance,” a term coined by Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott to describe a mercenary warrior. They swore their lances or weapons to no single lord, and as such, they could serve whomever they wished. Most businesses use the more formal term “independent contractors” when identifying freelancers in legal paperwork.

Freelancing means you’ll be taking on several jobs. Maybe not all at once, and very likely not according to regular office hours, but you’ll need to invest a sizable amount of time and energy in a variety of tasks. Depending on the scope of your expertise and self-management abilities, you’ll probably work on projects that have similar or different requirements.

Since you work on a per-project basis, you should expect to go through a lot of beginnings and endings. Freelancing isn’t the kind of thing you do if you want a quiet, regular pace. The only thing predictable and constant about it is the amount of juggling you’ll have to do all the time.

Decide on your field
As with any profession, you can’t work unless you actually decide on what it is you want to do. If you are a regular employee, it usually means your job description is relatively static and determined by your employer. If you’re a freelancer, your job description relies entirely on what you want to do, and how you go about it.

Freelancing usually falls into two broad categories: creative development and direct service. The former is where writers, artists, designers and musicians belong, while the latter includes lawyers, plumbers, planners and other procedural professions. People who provide direct service can be further divided into white-collar and blue-collar freelancers. Taken all together, there’s as much potential variety in freelancing as there is in the rest of the business landscape.


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