Over-romanticizing freelance work kills it

There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to freelancing. Some say freelancers have it easy, but there are some things that your freelancing friends are struggling with

Here’s a thought rarely brought up: Freelance job is not a lifestyle, it’s a job and you have to work hard for it. There, the elephant in the room is out. Sometimes, we have to be straightforward and say it, right?

We all have heard and read so much about how freelancers can get up at noon, dress in clothes they’ve worn the night before, work in a café just outside their home—and still get paid. No one in their sane self would turn their back on this offer. You’d be Joker in Arkham Asylum if you say it’s not good enough. In fact, it’s too good to be true.

Now, no one is saying any of it is not true. What we’re saying is: the ones left unsaid are also true.

What’s left unsaid

When you’re in a freelance job, you are your own boss and that’s great! But what they don’t tell you is they are mostly on their own. Freelancers make decisions for themselves. They talk to the client directly, they do the necessary planning, and they negotiate. Being the CEO, the Sales Manager, the Project Manager, and the Artist (all at once!) is not that easy. There will be times it will be hard to say no, or haggle for deadlines, or ask details artists wish someone would ask for them. These are the things they face doing their work.

Here’s another truth: When you’re a freelancer, work comes to you. But this is also true: Freelancers worked hard to get their networks and their name out there. They did a lot of work first before they get those big projects. They had to prove themselves over and over before they get recommendations from the right people. They had to brush shoulders with potential clients before they get the lucky one who would bring them more connections. All of these did not happen in one day.  They had to build their empire from the ground up. The more work they do, the better their portfolio gets.

Some freelance artists do their projects alongside their demanding day job. Though they chose what they do, they have to give up a lot of their plans to squeeze in their secret projects. Sure, their Instagram looks so exciting with their WIP sketches and sneak peek to their upcoming exhibits, but behind that is also a hardworking person who happens to enjoy what he does. If you’ve known them, nothing in what they do say it’s so easy. They just happen to love what they do that they are willing to stay up during the wee hours of the night to finish it, and then prepare for work a few hours after.

Point is, freelancers work just as hard as other people. Whatever they have, they have earned them just as other people with corporate work earned their positions. Sugarcoating the job does not help freelancers get the respect they deserve. Some, who are not aware of their workload, think it’s all fun and assume freelance means free service. It’s horrifying that someone actually has to pass a law just to protect the freelance industry in the country.

They need to get paid, especially when they have cats to feed.

For the full story, grab Doodle Arts April-June 2016 – The Freelance Issue.

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Elaine Catindig is editor-at-large and columnist of Doodle Arts. She has been involved in the disruptive and transformative creative revolution of cross-media advertising. A long time blogger and writer, Elaine has written for different publications and other local independent magazines. Follow her art footprints, @elainecatindig.
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