I finally quit my daytime job to work full time as a freelance writer. The decision to quit my job was neither prompt nor easy. So, I was a little taken aback when my friends started calling to ask how I managed to do it.
“I also want to do full time freelancing,” the calls went.
Here is the thing. You can’t just quit your job and throw all your eggs into the basket labeled freelancer. It is suicidal and maniac. Before you consider leaving your daytime job to work at home, you need to analyze whether you are clearly cut out to be a freelancer.
My Journey to Becoming a Top Freelancer in Kenya
I used to hold a formal 8-5 job which came with all bells and whistles attached. I had perks, allowances, promotions, 30 days of paid annual leave and free workshops and seminars that built on my preexisting knowledge. These were great opportunities to not only network with my peers but to also meet beautiful people in the corporate world!
However, even with all these strings attached, I used to feel kind of caged by my daytime job. I craved for freedom.
I realized that I am a made to be a freelancer. I like doing what I want to do without anybody laying demands on me or my time.
This realization had me thinking of ways that I could use to free myself from formal employment. I initially thought of saving enough money or borrowing a loan to start a kiosk. Then came that day when Timothy suggested that I should try selling my services as a freelance writer in oDesk. I immediately became receptive to the idea.
Just think about it. Being a freelancer is associated with being free to work when you actually feel like working and from wherever you want to work from.
You can literally take your job with you on your next holiday vacation to Kisauni.
You do not have to work for 8 long hours every day.
All this sounds spectacular, except that it is not.
From a very long personal experience, freelancers work more hours than people in formal employment. This is what happens once you quit your job.
While you used to have only one boss in your formal job, you now have several of them, only that you refer to them as clients. Every one of them can have their eccentric whimsical expectations that can drive you to the brink of insanity if you are not careful enough.
Online freelance jobs also strip you off some benefits that you used to enjoy. None of them comes with medical insurances or paid annual vacation days. Your new bosses are less concerned whether you are getting job satisfaction! Some won’t even bother to pay you after all the struggle you have gone through to give them pitch-perfect work.
It is important that as you work towards establishing your freelance career, you take care that you are not stuck in a rat-race. The ultimate goal of freelancing should be to make it a business, not an employment. Otherwise you will easily burn out and wish for those days that you used to be strapped on your swivel leather chair in the office.
Are You Cut Out to Be a Full time Freelancer?
I do not mean to scare you. It is important that you follow your passion. But is is also important that you do so from a logical point of approach. Here are some 7 indicators that you might not be ready to become a full time freelancer.
1. You do not work very well when you are left alone
Are you the type of person who is usually being prompted to complete projects at your workplace? Are you able to tell when a project is perfectly done or do you depend on your colleagues and supervisor to give you feedback?
If you are this type of person, you might find it exceedingly difficult to survive as a full time freelancer.
As a freelance, you will be called upon to be independent. There is no client who has the time to plod you along. You will decide when a project is sufficiently done.
2. You give up easily
Sadly, many freelancers in Kenya get into freelancing because they think it is an easier alternative to finding jobs in the brick and mortar industry. The truth is that applying for online jobs in Kenya calls for even more patience that applying for formal employment. The freelancing success stories that you hear are usually from freelancers who persevered.
If you are the type of person who quits after the very first obstacles, full time freelancing is probably not your cup of tea.
3. Your have poor management skills
Time management is an important component of your freelancing career. If your time management skills are poor, you need to work on them before you consider a career as a full time freelancer. Proper time management is especially important to new freelancers who might not have the resources to form a team.
4. You don’t take criticism easily
The freelance world is full of different types of clients. Some are understanding and easy to work with. They will support you and encourage the growth of your skills. You might even find a friend among such clients.
Others are not that easy to please. You will have to learn how to work with such clients. If you don’t take easily to criticism, you will face a lot of difficulties if you major into full time freelancing.
5. You are not willing to charge what you are worth
A lot of freelancers in Kenya are gravely underpaid. Unfortunately, most of them ‘want’ it that way. As a full time freelancer, it is important that your charges be reasonable. Charge too high and your risk scaring off the clients. Charge too little and you won’t be able to pay the bills.
It is important that you charge a healthy market rate for your services.