Ana Doru is the $100 grand prize winner of the Workhoppers’ blog contest with Life as a Freelancer – unfiltered.
Do you know that feeling that you get when you wake up in the morning and you know you have to get to work? Yes, that feeling of resistance from your bed calling you and urging you to stay in “just a few minutes more”, before getting ready, getting rid of your puffy eyes and trying to put on a nice smile to face the world, greet your colleagues and your boss. Because if you don’t say “hi” or stop to chat with every single co-worker that glances your way as you walk in to work you will be categorized as snob or rude or even depressed because who knows what might have happened to you after work the day before.
And if for some reason, heaven forbid, you are tired, or don’t feel like working as much one day, your productivity might drop and if that happens a few times your boss will catch on and your job could be in danger. And don’t get me started on vacation! In North America vacation is a luxury and if we are lucky, we get two weeks of vacation when we start a new job. Only if we are lucky! Some people have to settle for less than that. And even having the right to take your vacation when you want could be a struggle, because there are busy periods at work when you cannot leave or you don’t have the seniority and you are one of the last ones to get to pick your days off.
But you know what? One day I decided to put an end to all of that! I wanted to be free to wake up when I wanted, to take my vacations when I wanted and for how long I wanted, to work where I wanted and most importantly, to do what I wanted!
I have always loved languages and I had studied in translation so I decided to become an independent translator. That’s how I became self-employed. It’s been 3 years now that I am my own boss and I love it! Yes! You heard that right! It’s all up to me! That sounds amazing, right? This is my life as a freelancer review. Well… please allow me to burst your bubble just about now. It’s not all milk and honey!
When you are self-employed and you call the shots you have to keep in mind a few simple things. First of all, the beginning is very hard because you have to set up your “company” and find your own clients. So to tell you the truth, in this unfiltered life as a freelancer, for the first 6 months, I made almost no money at all.
After you have established a clientele and money is starting to flow in, you have to worry about taxes and all the financial aspects. You don’t have an employer to take care of all that anymore. You have to become knowledgeable in accounting and administration and make sure you pay your retirement, your medical insurance in case you get sick and can’t work anymore, your maternity if you are a woman and are planning on having a baby, and a few other things that the government requires from you. If you are not careful or if you don’t send in all the necessary forms, the government will penalize you.
You also have to be disciplined and not tempted by the TV who’s calling your name to watch “just one tiny show”, or just “the beginning of that interesting movie”. And that fridge seems to want to tell you countless culinary stories that steer you away from your work. Don’t allow it! Your phone or doorbell might be ringing much more often because your family and friends think that if you’re home, well, you must be available for a quick chat or visit, or a walk in the park, of course! And it’s so hard to say “no”, because you do make your own schedule and part of the reason why you became your own boss in the first place was probably to be able to spend more time with the people you love, doing the things you love.
However now you are responsible for your own income, which is directly proportional to the number of hours you put in. So this is how I end up starting my workday at the break of dawn and closing my computer way after everybody else has gone to bed, and this is why coffee shops and libraries became my favourite spots to hang out during the day so that I could get some peace and quiet and concentrate on my job. And I still have deadlines to meet and quality concerns and evaluations, but it is all much more pleasant to deal with.
When I am the one providing people with a service, they need me, and the work relationship is a much more equal one than the one I’ve ever had with any boss in the past. So please, don’t get me wrong, I love being able to work from a coffee place or the library or the park or from home, sometimes even in my bed or in my PJs, lying down on the floor! I love the freedom of only working 3 or 4 days a week if I want to. Yes, those days will end up being very long and exhausting, because I need to put in a certain number of hours in order to pay all my bills, but it is all worth it in the end if you ask me.
After a while you get the hang of it all and you make peace with the fact that not one day is quite the same as the next. I would like to tell you that you become much better at dealing with all the distractions, but I haven’t quite fully figured that part out yet. What I know is that at the end of the month, or year, it all balances itself out and you have a decent income and you can also say that you did do more of the things you wanted to do and spent more time with the people you wanted to see.
Overall, you can see there are positive and negative sides to my Life as a Freelancer unfiltered, just like with any regular job, but it all depends on what kind of person you are. I have realized that I might probably never be able to go through an interview or work for an employer ever again. But that’s just me.
Written by Ana Doru, the winner of the Workhoppers $100 cash prize Life as A Freelancer blog contest. Ana was born in Brasov, Romania and now lives in Montreal, Canada. She loves travelling so much, that she actually considers herself to be a citizen of the world. She majored in Languages, as well as International Development Studies at McGill University. After working in different fields, she decided to become a freelance translator. She currently translates from English into French and also Romanian. One of her greatest sources of inspiration and her favorite quote is “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” (Walter Bagehot)
Thank you to all the participants of the Life as A Freelancer unfiltered….
Workhopper members stay tuned for an email about our next contest in February 2017, just in time for Valentines Day!
And meanwhile, if you are looking for freelance work, create your own profile now.