The Good Life
Everyone who has worked freelance or on a contract basis is familiar with the benefits and challenges. It is probably fair to say that most have daydreamed of a time they are able to pick and choose between clients and projects based on their creative interest or notoriety. For a very select few this is a reality. For the rest of us, we labor to uphold a high level of integrity in our work, expect the same from our clients, and are without an entourage of managers, lawyers, and secretaries. What does working as an individual consultant or designer mean for those of us without Zeldman, Meyer, or Davis status? There are a number of items to consider.
On one side there is the feared moment when, upon the completion of a project, you realize there are no upcoming clients or projects on the calendar meaning you may be eating Ramen very soon; not a good feeling. Then there are the businessman, lawyer, secretary, designer, programmer shoes you must fill. Don’t think you have enough time in your day? Try to answer a million emails, explain to a client they did indeed request that color, read up on your favorite blogs and news portals, drink more coffee, update the other client’s site, begin work on the new client’s site, call the company that owes you again (a great one), draft up another contract, invoice a client, answer the phone, eat, spend time with the significant other and sleep in a 24 hour period. Then wake up and do it all again the next day. Yes, though you have only to answer to your client and personal levels of quality and professionalism, there are the other things I touched on above.
On the flip side, as a freelancer, there is the idealistic sense of artistic control or creative freedom that is not realized by many in the studio setting. When a project is complete, the client is happy, and you are pleased with the finished product, the satisfying feeling of accomplishment is amazing. After long hours, pots of coffee, albums and albums of music, and the inevitable cursing out of your computer or Internet browser (IE anyone?), to sit back and think to yourself “wow, I did that” is truly rewarding. As a one-man visionary there are no Art Directors looming overhead to over sensationalize his or her vision and, in doing so, trivialize your own. When a client contacts you, there is no questioning they did so because they appreciate your efforts.There are a multitude of other pros and cons related to the life of freelance and we are all very interested in hearing them.