Odds are if you’re in the creative field, you probably started pursuing your passion as a side-hustle to your full time job. Working late nights, weekends and during any possible free moment, you were dedicated to making your creative ambitions become a full time reality.
In truth, taking the leap from part time to full time artist is tough. Although, you will eventually be able to dedicate your entire day to pursuing your craft, there will be challenges that every creative faces when switching their career path.
Becoming a freelance creative can be the most fulfilling expression of professional freedom, yet it is one that should not be underestimated. Unlike a side-hustle, being a freelance creative means building your personal brand and business from the ground up. Creative mode switched on – all day, every day.
If you haven’t yet made the change to pursuing your creativity full time, here are 10 reasons why being a freelance creative is more than just a side-hustle.
1. There’s No Such Thing As A “Day Off”
Although you’re probably accustomed to working hours on end to make your creative dreams come true, you don’t really know what working means until you’ve become a freelancer. In a traditional environment, your hours are set and calculated. You know when you need to punch in and when you can clock out for the evening. In the freelance creative world, the typical line between starting and stopping your work becomes blurred and will eventually disappear.
As a freelancer, you are on the clock all day, every day to ensure the growth and success of your personal business. This means that if a client requests images on a Friday evening or needs a contract review on Sunday morning, you must be available and ready to meet their needs. You will no longer be tied down to the idea that work has a set schedule of hours. Instead, you will create your own and be prepared to work at any moment’s notice.
But, if you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t quite feel like work, right?
2. It Will Be Your Only Source of Income
While your side-hustle was meant to provide another source of income to your full time job, as a freelance creative your craft becomes the sole money making machine. This means that as a freelancer, your artistic projects will have to fully fund your lifestyle.
Depending on what type of content you produce, you may have no problem with swapping your full time salary for your freelance rates. Yet, for many it does take some time to start gaining an income that you are comfortable with to support your living situation. This step is a normal part of transitioning into a freelance creative career.
In order to manage expectations, start saving as much as you can while you are still a full time employee. Having some extra cash stored away for when work is slow, will help you stay afloat and keep pushing towards a more fiscally sound, creative future.
3. You’ll Have To Be Your Own Boss
During your side-hustle, you still had a boss to report to for your day to day job. This person in charge gave you assignments and managed your progress through daily, weekly and monthly reports. In essence, you always had someone to keep you in check and on track to starting and completing your work.
When you become self-employed, you are your own boss. While it’s many creatives’ dream to work on their own accord, working for yourself takes an immense amount of self preservation and determination. There is no one checking in with you, making sure you are on track or giving you new clients to work with – as a freelance creative, you have no one to answer to, but yourself.
4. Every Day Requires Self Motivation
Being your own boss requires you to practice the art of self motivation. It can be easy to veer off a productive working schedule when you are self employed. If you find yourself making excuses, putting projects off until a later date or even sleeping in later than expected, you will need to realign your goals and working routine.
Self motivation is tough. It requires you to be hard on yourself and expect tangible results for your efforts. While a side-hustle requires motivation, you may be more inclined to bend the rules since you can fall back on your full time job. As a freelancer, you can only be as successful as your personal efforts and self-motivation.
5. Your Work Will Follow The 80/20 Principle
When working on your side-hustle, you most likely spent more time finding new clients than actually creating tangible work. As a freelance creative, this idea of self-marketing still applies, but in a manner that allows you to focus primarily on the results of your efforts.
The idea for managing full time creativity relates back to a theory called the Pareto Principle. Its core foundation has been expanded to cover a variety of topics from career to personal life. In your freelance creative life, you will experience this 80/20 theory. Essentially, it means that 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your efforts.
In order to take your marketing and client list to the next level, you have to step outside the side-hustle method of gaining as many clients as possible in hopes of building a vast portfolio. Instead, you will need to focus on increasing productivity and producing stronger, more tailored work to retain a select list of suitable clientele.
With this, you will dedicate 20% of your working hours to creating valuable content to ensure an 80% payoff of clients who understand and support your creative vision.
6. There’s No Such Thing As A “Paid Vacation”
Once you’ve become a freelance creative, say good-bye to the idea of paid vacation. While the corporate, salaried environment garners its employees perks such as paid time off, a self-employed creator doesn’t necessarily have the same benefits.
Considering that your work can never truly be shut off, it makes it difficult to take a trip without keeping up with professional responsibilities. In addition to being accessible, you may not be able to truly afford time off. Unless you had a high paying project that month, you will most likely be enjoying your vacation while simultaneously working on client deadlines and deliverables while lounging by the ocean.
I suppose there could be worse things than working from your laptop on a tropical island getaway.
7. There Will Be Less Social Interaction
The one thing that everyone tells you about being self employed is that it can be lonely at times. When you’re pursuing your side hustle, your work is being done after hours. Because you still go to someplace of employment, your day to day interactions with coworkers and clients is highly social.
Choosing to transition to a fully freelance creative, will drastically change the way you work. In fact, the freelance lifestyle isn’t for the faint of heart or for those who easily feel the sting of loneliness. Most days you’ll be working from home, the library or a coffeeshop – leaving your social interactions up to the fate of strangers or after work hours with your salaried friends.
While you have the chance to choose from where you want to work, decide how many hours you’ll sit by your computer and have no set time limit to your lunch break, working for yourself requires a whole new endeavor of learning how to be alone.
8. Your Brain Won’t Be Able To Turn Off Work
There’s a general consensus found in the freelance creative community – that the idea and concept of working never completely gets turned off. Relating back to the idea that as a freelancer you have no days off, what you don’t realize is that you’ll never be able to truly stop thinking about work.
You’re always going to be thinking about the projects you need to finish, notes from your client on the final deliverables and the marketing techniques you need to employ to land new business. You will go from being passionate about changing your side-hustle into a full time job to being all consumed with your work from morning to night.
As a freelance creative, you can’t simply turn off your brain and have business as usual. So, it’s important to understand how to schedule your workday and carve out specific times for personal and social interactions.
9. You Will Eventually Want To Scale Your Business
When you begin your side-hustle, all of your dreams are focused on landing your first client. Yet, as you build a client list and a reputation within your creative community, you will start to reach a point in which your business levels off.
At this moment, you will begin to think of new ways to innovate and grow your existing skills and brand to scale your business. Growing and redeveloping a creative career will take time, effort and a strategic plan built for results.
This may be the most complex and intricate part of being a freelance creative that surpasses any type of activity done during your side-hustle. It calls for a reexamining of your personal and professional future, to do whatever it takes to break the cycle of constantly finding new clients. In this stage, you will focus less on being a freelancer and more on becoming a full fledged professional artist.
10. It Will Take All of Your Energy, But Is Completely Worth It
The real difference between pursuing a side-hustle and becoming a freelance creative all comes down to how much energy you are willing to exert every day for your passion.
Taking on a side-hustle is a valuable first step to achieving your creative goals. Yet, in this stage of the process you only have one foot in the water. Becoming a self-employed, freelance creative requires you to take the jump into the deep end and dive into the unknown. Your creativity will encompass your life and guide you into a career that is completely your own.
So, you may have no days off, be unable to turn off the idea of work and miss out on the luxury of paid vacation. But, every day will be filled with pursuing a path that you are passionate about, creating works of art to share with the world and in all, creating the life that you want to live.
Being a full time, freelance creative may take up all of your energy, but it’s guaranteed to be completely worth it.