Anyone who has slogged their way through a nine-to-five job that not only bored them, but actively stifled any creative or personal expression they might have wanted to put into their work, knows the siren call of freelance work. From arrogant employers who make short-sighted and arbitrary decisions concerning projects and fields about which they know nothing, to the whining and dull incompetent workers with whom one is assigned to collaborate on meaningless slog, there are many motivators to leave the restriction of the office for freelancing. But is the grass really greener on the other side?
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Freelancing is filled with its own challenges. One must be constantly on the hustle to make new contacts, in order to keep up a steady flow of work. Income is unpredictable, making personal budgeting an on-going concern. Filing in tax returns for many sources of work can be an organizational nightmare. Yet there is a certain sort of person who is able to make it all work. While there is no cookie-cutter image of such an individual, they all have a certain common characteristics. Here are some personality traits you will most likely find in those who have been successful in freelance work.
The revolution in the workplace that was predicted with the advent of the internet has not, in fact, swept away the traditional office. If you are working freelance, chances are you are working, at least partially, online. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, professionalism is even more important online. Because you don’t have the context of a personal interaction, it is all the easier to misinterpret intent. And a typed remark that you might have thought of as humorous and friendly can be grossly misinterpreted by the reader. When commencing in online communications, it is better to say professional.
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If your freelance dreams consistently involve the fantasy of sleeping in every day and working in your pyjamas, you are not alone. However, if you cannot motivate yourself to get up and put in your eight hours of work, you’re going to quickly wash up as a freelancer. If you can’t work regular hours without some barking superior breathing down your neck, then you need to stick to the security of the office. Freelancing is work for disciplined, self-motivated people.
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If you have it, a steady salary with health insurance may be a tempting security blanket. Perhaps that is what’s keeping you from taking the plunge. And, it is indisputable that, if you give up the regular pay check of office work, you will be forced to cut down on certain aspects of your lifestyle. Maybe you don’t really need another pair of designer pants or a second vacation this year! And maybe you wouldn’t feel like you needed a second vacation if you didn’t feel the bite of daily drudgery.
The distinction between introversion and extroversion is not well understood popularly. An introvert isn’t someone who hates social interaction. Often introverts enjoy socializing. When analytical psychologist Carl Jung coined the terms introvert and extrovert, he was referring to someone who derived their sense of “energy” or “nourishment.” If groups drain you, and you find yourself needing time alone to recharge, then you are an introvert. And introversion is an advantage to the freelancer.
Call it drive. Call it determination. There are many names for this all-important quality. This is the most central and necessary of all qualities that one must have to make it as a freelancer. When you have completed your work, and you don’t know if you’ll have enough money to pay the bills, and you’re not even that happy with what you’ve just done, it takes determination to get right back in there and hustle up more connections, more contacts, and more opportunities. If you don’t have persistence, you are guaranteed to fail. That’s a promise.
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These are the qualities that are seen to be necessary to make it in the world of freelancing. If you feel you possess these character traits, you may want to take the leap.