What's the best and worst thing about life as a freelance creative?

I've been freelancing now for a little over 3 years and it's been a mixed bag of ups & downs, I'm just curious to hear the thoughts of other creatives.


  • Thanks for all the insights so far everyone. Really great to hear how everyone deals with life as a freelancer. Keep the replies coming! :)
  • Hi Jake

    I've been freelancing for over 30 years and have seen many ups and downs over that time. When people frequently say it must be great beeing self employed becuase you have all that freedom I tend to make the point that in some respects you have less.

    When you work for yourself you can't afford to turn down work when its offered particularly as a photographer because the projects tend to be shorter than design ones. Consequently if the client calls and you have something else planned it may have to wait. I've cut short holidays, missed family events etc. When you have a full time job you probably can say "I'm on holiday don't call me and I may not be able to check my emails" you can't do that freelance. You have to keep the phone on and with you.

    if you can keep a varied roster of clients that you keep adding to then you will probably succeed. The danger comes when you have one main client and a few small ones. It only take a small change in personel at the main client and you can be in trouble. One of the down sides for me over the recent covid situation is that I was working with a lot of other freelance producers/art buyers. many of them are still looking for work or in a couple of cases retrained and out of the industry.

    The freedom is great don't get me wrong but it's not relaxing

  • Hello Jake,

    Ups: First and foremost I find it very purposeful. The feeling to make things that really gives a legacy to me and the world.

    Downs: Dealing with clients. I have a mild Eastern European temper and had to learn to count to 10 before saying things that came to mind first time.
  • @Emilia Trafalgar yeah, being reliant on yourself to keep the motivation up can sometimes be a challenge.
  • At times working freelance & from home can be pretty lonely as you're not actively meeting the creatives you're working with in a team all the time. It's hard to get a sense of teamwork
  • @Joseph Yates yeah I get that, free time can be just as much a curse as it is a gift. I find that it can be sometimes hard to maintain a creative flow-state and sense of momentum, as jobs aren’t always there to help carry that through.
  • Ups are defo having loads of free time. Downs are having too much free time and no gigs.
  • At first, my downs were getting used to not knowing what work would come but when I realised work always comes, my ups became my downtime - the time we can use to reset, refresh and revive.

    Other downs: admin and chasing invoices. Hate all that.

    Other ups: free time during the week when most people are at work, making things like shopping and going to the cinema easier. Being my own boss, staying out of office politics, choosing clients. The list goes on!
  • Downs: having very busy times and others with no work. Up: to say "no" to projects or clients you don't connect with. I find this very liberating and it makes for all the downs of being a freelancer. Also being a worrying person when I was an employee I was constantly stressed because I didn't want to let my company down (stupid, I know): now I feel responsible only for myself.
  • @Edward Penna appreciate your detailed and very eloquently put answer. Bringing visions to life is definitely the intention 👍🏼.
  • Hey @Jake Barnes! Great question. I've been freelancing for a similar amount of time as you. As you've perfectly illustrated there are MANY ups and downs, it's definitely a mixed bag.

    The best part of being a freelancer for me is the freedom. The freedom to work when I want, where I want, with who I want. I also love directly impacting businesses with my work, 'bringing visions to life' as I frequently describe. It's such a satisfying feeling.

    With that being said, the freedom can and often is a double edged sword. Because you are your own boss, understanding, implementing and adopting principles and practices to keep you on track and disciplined can be tricky.

    It's definitely something that took some adjusting for me, but got better with experience. Going from a 9-5 having having your day to day mapped out and a manager/boss to support, to freelance life where it's pretty much just you.

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