I will begin this post by saying: I no longer freelance full-time. For the past year, I have worked full-time with Traliant as their Senior eLearning Developer, and I love what I do. That being said, I do still freelance…just in a different way and for different reasons.
Awhile ago, I wrote a post about my Freelance to Freedom, and because it’s been five years and a lot has changed, I thought that was as good a time as any to reflect on my freelance journey, my goals, and how I’ve transitioned my freelancing since then.
When I initially wrote that post, I had dabbled in freelancing, working various contracts, and considering making strategic moves, such as requesting reduced hours at my full-time job, securing contracts, and moving toward full-time freelance. Since then, my focus has shifted. I’ve learned:
- First and foremost: SO MUCH
- What level of freelance I’m comfortable with and uncomfortable with
- What type of work I enjoy doing
- What my overall goals are in relation to freelancing
Let’s break it down!
Levels of Freelancing Comfort
What initially began as me being unable to say no (to contracts) and winding up working both permanent full-time and full-time freelance gigs has allowed me to explore how I want to freelance. For me, I prefer to have a permanent full-time role, while being able to continue my side hustle with small projects.
- It’s important to note that I have always been transparent with my full-time employers about my intentions and have sought approval before beginning employment. No one should be blindsided.
- My proposition has always been ‘so long as the freelance role doesn’t impact my ability to get my regular work completed and is non-compete (working in similar subject matter lanes can feel icky, and you should go with your gut)’.
So for me, what was once ‘take every gig you can and just make time for it’ has turned into a much more strategic endeavour. This is because when I fast forward 5 years (and I’m sure 10/15/20 from now as well), I see that I have put a lot more value into my time and into my work-life balance.
I love freelance work because it keeps things fresh and ever-changing, but I also enjoy stability.
Another level of comfort I’ve found: working remotely. I do enjoy interacting with people on a daily basis, but for me that doesn’t mean it needs to occur within a traditional office space. I appreciate knowing that I can comfortably do my work from my home office, a cafe, a hospital, another country…wherever I want so long as there’s an internet connection. I love being location independent!
What Type of Work I Enjoy Doing
When I first started freelancing, I learned very quickly that I enjoyed working in an Instructional Design or Storyline Developer capacity. I am very good at both of those roles and I learned early on that I wanted to work smarter and not harder, so I chose freelance work that aligned with my skillset.
If you threw me into the full-time freelance pool again, I would still feel this way, and would still align the projects I worked on with my skillset. It makes sense. I fully recommend to anyone: promote the work that you would want to do again, because it’s what you will enjoy doing…and if you spend 40+ hours a week working, you should heed this one bit of advice, if only for your sanity. I’m a big supporter of investing in things that you will spend most of your time doing (work and sleep) – make those elements of your life as comfortable as you can.
What My Overall Goals Are in Relation to Freelancing
Initially my freelancing goal was ‘pay off my student debt’, then it was ‘make all of the money’, and now it is to foster relationships and invest in my professional development. How does that look for me now when it comes to freelancing?
As I mentioned before, I value my time and my work-life balance, so my freelancing is now focused less on more traditionally viewed ‘work’, such as Instructional Design or eLearning Development, and more on my own professional development and the professional development of others.
What I’ve really been passionate about for the last five or so years has been: Speaking. I love delivering sessions at conferences and providing training to others in the form of workshops and online courses (usually on topics of Instructional Design, eLearning, eLearning Development, etc.). I am very fortunate to have a career that allows me to do this, and the reason I see this as my preferred form of freelancing is because: 1 – it allows me to connect with colleagues and share what I’ve learned over the last 15 years of my professional life, and 2 – I have always been terrified of public speaking.
It’s a weird Catch-22 of ‘I like sharing’, but ‘I hate speaking’, and speaking at conferences and other events has allowed me to improve on a skillset of which I struggle. This is invaluable to me. So while I no longer freelance in the traditional sense of the word, this is my freelancing.
Last Words of Advice
Work outside of your comfort zone if you’d like, but make sure that it’s sustainable for you, your goals, and your desired work-life balance. If you want to do freelance full-time, there are strategic ways of executing this goal, so don’t work yourself to death – no one needs that kind of pressure. If you’d like to hear more about my freelancing insights, I’ll be delivering sessions on this topic at both ATD TechKnowledge 2020 and Learning Solutions 2020 (as well as some sessions and workshops in between).