Today I made a very difficult decision (yet again).
A position came across my radar recently that would have paid about 5 times as much as I’m currently making. Startup type environment, lots of upward mobility, stable, dependable.
Here’s the catch: it would have eaten my whole life and made me very unhappy.
Freelance work isn't always easy. Sometimes when it rains, it pours and you're working almost nonstop. But then there are also months when the work doesn't come. Because of this, you often don't have as much security. If a client flakes on you, you eat the cost. You have to deal with the expenses of running your own business, and you have to hustle pretty much all the time (especially at the beginning). You also often have to enforce your boundaries and stick up for yourself quite a bit more than in a regular work setting.
Now for the pros. There are a lot of them. You get to be your own boss. You get to choose who you work with (within reason). You get to negotiate your own rates and contract. You are in charge of what services you do or don't offer. You get to be in charge of marketing yourself. And biggest benefit of all - you often get to set your own schedule, which means way more freedom and flexibility!
(And if you're someone like me who has a ton of different jobs, connections, interests, and hobbies, you'll understand how important that last one is. Freedom is everything.)
I've also found that choosing to be a contractor or freelancer often gives you the most creative freedom, the most confidence, the most fulfillment, and the healthiest work/life balance. And depending on the client or project, it can end up being much more lucrative than a regular 9-5 position.
So while this safe, dependable, upwardly mobile job had some perks, it was full time + overtime + occasional weekend hours + special events, and they wanted 100% commitment. This essentially means that in addition to not being able to write grants for Music Education & Performing Artists Association-MEPAA, I would have had to shut down Sage House for at least the next 6 months (and in the process, toss aside all my current projects and amazing clients).
I would also have been promoting a product that I’m not familiar with and am not completely head-over-heels crazy about, which goes against one of my biggest rules - if you’re not crazy about (or at least enthused about) what you’re selling, you won’t do good work.
So I said no. Even as my logical self (and bank account) screamed at me, I said no. And immediately, I felt the knot in my stomach unwind.
Then the following week, I landed three new clients in two days. Such is freelance life. Ebb and flow. When it rains, it pours. Learning to ride and appreciate the waves.
So to all you other freelancers out there making the interesting, independent, pioneering choices instead of the easy ones - I see you. And I think we are brave.
Here’s to putting our businesses, creativity, fulfillment, desire to help others, and overall happiness first!