Here at Jam Pan we’re all about supporting freelancers in their career. And with that comes telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Including the not-so-pretty side of freelancing.
So to share the truth about freelancing, our very own John Hinchliffe sat down for a virtual catch up with these three fantastic freelancers (and recorded the entire thing, of course!):
- Egle Vinauskaite, who has been freelancing for almost three years, working in the digital learning space.
- Houra Amin, who started her career as a freelance Spanish teacher over two decades ago, and now is a freelance learning consultant.
- Teresa Rose, who has been freelancing since the summer of 2019 and provides consulting services to L&D professionals.
This panel discussion shed real light on the ups and downs of freelancing. Today we’re going to share these insights with you – and help you see why our expert panel will never turn their back on freelancing, even if it isn’t rosey all the time.
What are the benefits of freelancing?
The benefits of freelancing are well reported – more control, power and freedom over what work you do and who you do it with (or for!) But our panel of freelancing experts shared some lesser known benefits to freelancing, during their chat with John.
Create real impact
Firstly, the freelancers commented on the sense of reward freelancing brings. Teresa described this as serendipity – a completely accidental benefit to freelancing that brings her true joy. As a freelancer you have a truly unique chance to help organisations and teams in a way that may not have been presented to you if you were ‘in house’. You can fulfil the role required, while sharing and gaining knowledge from the organisation – leaving behind you a lasting legacy, leading to more and more business for you in your freelance gig.
Ample learning experiences
Secondly, freelancing gives a unique ability to continually learn. An opportunity to get more experiences, in a wider range of industries than you typically would with an ‘in house role’, including meeting new people with different experiences to your own. Egle went on to elaborate this point, stating that “every project is different, you can learn so much about what’s happening, both in and out of the world of L&D – freelancing can really expand your horizons”.
You’re in control
Finally, having complete autonomy and control over your own day-to-day role is a huge benefit of freelancing. We strongly believe that freelancing allows you to shape your own career. From the tools you use, to the industries you work in – as a freelancer you truly are in control.
What are the negatives of freelancing?
We could write thousands of words about the benefits of freelancing. But that wouldn’t be an honest portrayal of life as a freelancer. As Houra stated in our panel discussion – “It’s not all roses”. There are a huge range of challenges you should consider before diving head-first into a freelance gig.
The first challenge is unsurprising: You must be prepared to find your own clients. Networking as a freelancer is key. You must intentionally connect and build a network with a whole host of people. You never know who your next client might be. But Houra touched on a point we strongly support here at Jam Pan: You need to curate your support network. As a freelancer you’ll no longer have colleagues to call upon or rant to, and it can sometimes feel very lonely. Join networking groups and work from co-working spaces (after the pandemic’s over, of course). Connect with people who understand the world of freelancing (signing up for our freelancer platform is a great place to start). Do everything you can to create that feeling of belonging.
Managing your workload
Secondly, as a freelancer it’s very easy to overwork yourself. Every day you aren’t working can feel like a day of lost wages. But you really must prioritise your own mental and physical health. Egle shared her experience of working for a year and half without any breaks or holidays – and called this inclination the dark side of freelancing. If you’re going to freelance full-time, make sure you have the self awareness to stop, take a break and prioritise yourself. (Oh, and insurance to protect your income is also a very good idea!)
Prioritising professional development
Finally, as you can expect with a panel of L&D fanatics – John and the rest of our panel said the final challenge of freelancing is the tendency to forget about personal development. In the corporate world, your manager will suggest training courses and learning interventions to ensure your development. But when you’re freelancing, there’s nobody to remind you to expand and develop your skills. However, it’s equally important as it is when you have an in-house role, and you really must prioritise it.
How to be an expert freelancer
Our panel has heaps of experience in freelancing, so we asked them to share their top tips with you all:
“Identify your foundations that nobody can take from you” – Teresa Rose
Teresa’s top tip was about self belief, and finding your very own unique selling point. She gave her own as an example: Academic qualifications, reputation, integrity and experience. All things that nobody can ever take from her. She advised that if you’re losing faith or work is quiet, focus on these things and build upon them – and that’ll see you through. Teresa also seconded this with having some money in the bank to withstand tougher times – we couldn’t agree more.
“Always respect the profession” – Egle Vinauskaite
Egle summarised her top tips in three key points:
- Don’t start too early, make sure you know your skill set before diving in headfirst. You’ll get stuck in a rut of taking on cheaper jobs if you do this, and that’s difficult to maintain.
- Respect the profession and always do a good job. By taking on work you’re not skilled to do, you bring down the reputation of all freelancers.
- Create mechanisms to learn on the job. You can easily go from project to project without learning anything if you don’t take time to reflect.
“Take control of your own professional development” – Houra Amin
Houra echoed the sentiments of the rest of the panel, but reiterated the importance of taking control of your own professional development. Freelancing has a strong career trajectory, but you have to put the work in. Houra recommends the Share Framework from Harold Jarche, which ensures you:
- Seek out new information and keep up to date.
- Make sense of everything you discover, everything you read and reflect on it.
- Share your resources, ideas and experience with your network and collaborate with colleagues.
And this is a process that should never end. You should always be following this pattern to ensure you’re taking control of your professional development.
Freelancing could be for you
There was a resounding agreement between Teresa, Egle and Houra that freelancing is a fantastic career choice. And unsurprisingly, we agree. You must weigh up the pros and cons, and apply them to your specific situation. But if you choose to take the leap – we’re here to help you all the way.
If you want to hear more from John’s panel discussion with Teresa, Egle and Houra you can do so by checking out our on demand webinar now.