The tides of Freelancing


This week, a colleague approached me with a couple of questions about freelancing. He asked about the contract I am using, taxes and the usual technical things.

As we were chatting, he revealed his intentions to become a freelancer to better battle the overhours and pay he was getting from the startup he is working on.

I ended up writing a couple of elaborate answers, here is what I think.

tides

The core to my answers was, that I certainly think that freelancing can give you a good position to negotiate on time and money. And you have to exercise that position, otherwise you end up in a situation that neither you want, nor any client can be happy with.

I see this tightly coupled with some of my best strenghts, that I can bring to any project and differentiate me from others. The most obvious being, my very high level of motivation.

Lets ponder over this a little bit deeper.

The time I have in my life, is my most precious resource. If everything goes well, I think I can do about 80 years. And I choose to live in a society and contribute to it, so work is naturally something that I want to spend time with.

So look at your day, your week and see what portion of time is spent working. I can tell you exactly how much time I have spent working productively, because I meticulously keep track of time. This is due to the fact, that I work based on an hourly rate.

My time entries are exact down to the minute. In an overview, and I can proudly show you weeks I logged 50+ hours. I can also show you, with the same pride, weeks with < 15 work hours or less, even over a couple of months.

There are times, I see myself in need, the project can make use of my skills and I am motivated to be working on it. I will happily contribute my time, skill and motivation.

But I am equally content with times where I can spend most of the day playing with my children, reading books and doing ‘nothing’. ‘Nothing productive’.

So, over the course of the years, I became accustomed to this low- and high tide way of working.

There is a strong relation between these intense, fast and long work sessions and doing nothing. For me, one cannot exist without the other.

I thrive in critical situations, facing challenging problems. And if I can honestly take a challenge, my whole body and mind are supporting me for the cause. Over the years, I have learned how much energy I can tap into for my work. And with the right amount of downtime, this is a hell lot of energy.

People see me doing 14+ hours a day, three times a week, and for the naive bystander it looks like I am working crazy hard. In reality, I am just very aware of how much of my time I can use for work, and when I need a break.

I need a strong position to negotiate about my own time. I can not, and will not let a company, client or who-ever I am working with dictate how much time I can spend on a cause that I trade my time against money.

Here you have one of my main reasons, I choose to be a freelancer over being an employee.

Conclusion

If you are in a position that someone is ‘using’ you, or sometimes you could even say ‘abusing’ you. Make up your mind, and start deciding for yourself.

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