How easy is it to be a freelancer?
Since almost a year my official job title is “freelancer”. Sometimes I check out what my fellow acquaintances do and I discovered that the number of freelancers is quite big in Latvia. Especially in the creative field. In Latvia more and more companies for specific projects often hire freelancer, because sometimes the permanent stuff can`t get the things done.
There are times when I like to share my stories with my friends about the amazing projects in which I participated. Then friends or relatives partly get jealous, but when I tell them that project come and go – with a big chance that for a month or more and that there will not be more awesome stuff to do – they start party feel sorry for me.
So, how easy or hard is the freelancers´ life? What is the bright and the dark side of the freelancer everyday routine?
I call myself a video editing and animation design freelancer. Maybe others would give me a different title, but that is not important.
So…how to become a freelancer?
Essentially to become a freelancer you have to go through the same procedure as any other job seeking individual. First you have to look for companies that may need your specific skills. I did that. In the beginning, I searched all job advertisements in the web which were linked to video, TV, editing and design name tags. The main goal of course was to find a permanent job position, but I wouldn`t reject opportunity to work with specific projects. I send out my motivation letter and CV.
Then silence… No one was really interested in my video editing skills.
But there was no time for feeling sorry for myself, so I just started to find job from different angle. I searched through web for companies which were working in my work field. I made a long list of companies and started to send out my CV, motivation letter and brief description e-mail asking if there is a free vacancy in any company.
I already assume that only 20% of all companies will give me any answer. Maybe they are busy or something, but that`s how it is in here. After a while I got my first answers, but half of them (of the 20%) was written with this text: “We are sorry, but for now we don`t need a new employee. Good luck”, or something like that. But I wasn`t sad, because I rather prefer to get some kind of answer, then don`t get anything.
But there were some positive letters in my e-mail box. And that`s how I find my first cooperation companies in specific projects. Then I started to work on interesting projects, always thinking about quality. In addition I made my own web page*, where I show my work, so other companies can see that I`m a great employee.
Bright side of the freelance work
In the beginning, I would like to highlight the bright side of the freelancers everyday life.
1. Dynamic workflow
The great thing about freelance work is that you can work with very different people and also very different projects. You have a really dynamic working time. One day you work for 24 hours, one day you don`t work at all, in next you go to a meeting with clients and start thinking about design on a totally different project.
2. You are the boss
Of course it is understandable that main boss always will be the person who ordered the specific job to be done, but big power you can keep to yourself as a projects performer. You can plan your time and you personally answer to a client. You work as you wish – in the night or at day time – just in the moments of inspiration. The main thing is the project to be done, not to work on it starting from 9:00 to 17:00. You can choose your own free time moments. Isn`t that great?
3. No ties
If you work as a freelancer you aren`t tied to one place. If you don`t like to work with a certain company, just tell them to take a hike. This argument can be valid for those who are really free and creative spirits.
4. Huge development of skills
I`m not sure if that`s the case to everybody, but for myself I can say that working as a freelancer is a great chance to improve your working skills from different angles. Every project is individual and often you have to face some new things which will develop a new skills and give you more experience. For example, for start I just edited a videos, now thanks for many projects, I also make vector graphs, create an animation design and experiment with amazing video effects.
5. In short period of time you can make lot of money
If you are lucky with a project, as a freelancer can earn more money in a week time than the amount of minimal Latvia’s wage. Of course you have to work like madman, but it`s worth it.
Dark side of the freelancers work
Everything has two sides. Below you can take look on arguments which is not so flattering to a freelancer´s work day.
1. No security
As I stated in the article´s beginning, there are months when you work so much you don`t have time to spend all the money, but there are month or two, when you are starting go crazy, because you don`t have any projects. There is no security, you cannot plan you life properly. There have been times when I had not enough money to pay the rent. That`s why even if I score sometimes a big time project, I never know if this needs to last for a month or even for three.
2. No specific working time
Even if I firstly stated that it is amazing, that you can work whenever you want, there is dark side of it. If you don`t have specific work time, you probably will work more. So I would recommend to set working hours, so you don`t burn out all your creativeness.
Also setting a working time helps you to do something even if you don`t have projects to work on. For me it is really hard to wake up in the morning, if I know that there is nothing to do. But I have to make something up, to keep moving. For example, I do some work on self advertising projects or study some new video making techniques.
3. No colleagues
I don`t like a noise. It disturbs me and I lose my productivity. But working from home and sitting in the same four walls can make you feel lonely. No chats, no coffee breaks and no advise.
If you are freelance, you don`t have an accountant department that take care of all receipts and number stuff. You have to understand it on your own. Or hire a accountant. Nobody likes to do his taxes. It is frustrating, especially if nobody in VID (Latvian State Revenue Service) wants to explain you what you need to fill, do or pay.
Those were the bright and the dark side of the freelance work in Latvia. I hope you liked it. For now, I still work as a freelancer, but hope I soon find a permanent job.
Please tell other how freelancers are treated in your county? Are they many? What are job opportunities and in which field? Please leave comment below.