Freelancers can ride bikes too!I just completed a great podcast interview with Collis Ta’eed from the NorthxEast blog, although the focus was not on that blog, it was on his newer blog, Freelance Switch. Freelance Switch is all about freelancing and skyrocketed in popularity in a matter of weeks, nearing 4000 RSS readers at one point – not bad for a three week old blog!

We talked about how he managed to grow the traffic to his blog so quickly and it turned out to be a very good interview with lots of cutting edge blog traffic tips. I’m only releasing the podcast to my Blog Mastermind members (sorry readers – I do have to have something premium for my members), so if you want to hear the full interview you better be on the early notification list to get into the mentoring program.

After talking with Collis and his success with a blog about freelancing I started thinking more about the whole freelance industry. I suspect there are quite a few freelancers who read this blog given that working as a freelancer is often considered running a business. Personally I have never wanted to be a freelancer, although I have certainly worked from time to time on freelance projects, especially during the days when I ran a web hosting company.

What Is A Freelancer?

Freelancers, as far as I understand it, are individuals – talented creative types usually – who chose not to seek permanent employment with a single company but instead take on contract projects working for many different businesses.

The idea is that by not committing to a full time job you gain some semblance of freedom and more control over your working lifestyle and income. You take on only as many projects as you need/want to, you can work from home and you don’t have any boss telling you what to do.

That all sounds good, but is freelancing really the best option if you are looking to improve your working lifestyle?

Freelancers as Small Business Owners

The book the E-Myth is very successful because so many people start small businesses thinking it leads to freedom, only to discover that they have created a situation of self employment, which is potentially worse than being employed by someone else. The E-Myth debunks the “myth” that self employment is entrepreneurship and that owning a successful business is not equal to self employment.

When you leave your job to begin freelancing no longer do you have a guaranteed income. Money only comes if you land clients, if you fulfill their needs and if they finally get around to paying you. As I outlined in one of my original pillar articles – Do You Want to Run Your Own Business? Read this First! – you don’t get paid holiday or sick leave, no retirement fund and you may work twice as many hours just to meet your previous income level when you had a job.

You are no longer a person who *just* has to be good at their job, you also have to find a way to be a bookkeeper, a salesperson, a manager, a technology expert and a host of other small business functions.

The Freelancer Myth

Freelancing as a career sounds great and I have to admit I feel a sense of romanticism that comes with that title (think poets, musicians, writers and artists, who all can be freelancers). Freelancers are very creative individuals with a unique talent and a desire for freedom. Unfortunately that one talent can be stifled when the person who possess it has to focus energy on other tasks. I suspect if we didn’t need money to live, many freelancers would indulge in their craft purely for pleasure.

Freelancers, just like any self employed individual, must aim to become true business owners. By establishing business systems that actually grant freedom – real freedom – you can move away from self employment and spend the majority of your time focusing on creative output. That’s when you make the magic happen, when your output is outstanding and when you enjoy work – and life – the most.

Business systematization is a topic I have discussed many times in this blog and you will find a lot of content in my archives that is relevant to moving towards true business ownership.

Look to the following tactics and strategies to move towards business freedom:

  • Think about what you are good at and how much time you currently spend on these activities
  • Determine what tasks are stopping you from doing what you are good at and make a list of the “impeding” activities
  • Find ways to outsource, eliminate or employ someone to handle the tasks or ways minimize the amount of time you devote to the impeding activities
  • Realize the activities that create the most value for you and increase the time spent on these activities (learn about the 80/20 rule)
  • Determine what your true motivations are when it comes to income, labor and lifestyle – are your current activities congruent with meeting these goals?
  • Create systems – documentation, flow charts, mind maps and videos – so any person can perform routine tasks
  • Let the experts do the jobs that require expertise – if you are not an accountant, a web programmer, a graphics designer, a writer, an “insert expert here” then don’t try to become one, hire one instead!
  • Don’t be afraid to say no to projects you can’t do or are not well matched to what you are good at
  • Get a mentor and seek consultation if you can’t move past a certain roadblock
  • And if all else fails in the end, going back to a job is not something to be ashamed of if you find freelancing is not your cup of tea – there is nothing wrong with experimenting in life

So how many freelancers are reading this? What do you do? Are you building a business or are you acting like a self employed nutcase? 🙂

Flying Free