“The dog needs feeding though"
It’s been great to catchup with my friend (and former Realmac colleague) Elliot over the past few weeks. Now, the man himself is back to blogging, and I was especially interested in sharing his thoughts about going independent and working for yourself:
"Going independent isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, even if you already have an income source outside of your day job. If you haven’t, the income-less months before your product ships will take an even heavier toll on your bank account. You’re waving farewell to stability and confidence in the knowledge that when the end of the month rolls around you will receive a set salary from your employer. With all of that risk comes a great reward however: the freedom of being your own boss and the ability to work on your own ideas. To me, the risk is worth the reward. Thus my investigation into whether or not this could be remotely feasible began."
My experience working for myself for the past 18 months or so has matched his, except that, he puts it in much better terms.
I originally started as a freelancer out of necessity: at the time, I needed to find another job, another position, another way to make money, because I was leaving my previous position. Despite numerous interviews here and there, in Brighton or in Berlin, back home in France, and even in the US, I realised that I either wasn’t a good fit for the role I was applying for, or my applications were being rejected.
Rejection is always hard, no matter how detach you try to be about it. With agencies, startups, product companies, sometimes even run by friends, it wasn’t easy. However it didn’t stop me from continuing to look for offers.
In the end, a company based in the US offered me a position with them as a contractor. I had to put in the hours, and make an employee’s worth of work, but legally speaking, I was working for myself, sending invoices, and taking some more work during my evenings & weekends.
Some of it was hard, some of it was exciting, and some of it was very stressful. For weeks I dreaded the first weekly calls with the clients. To this day, all the work I’ve done for this former client has been remote so I haven’t even seen or met anyone at this company, even today.
But what I have learnt, about myself, about how I work, about what I want to try and strive towards, in terms of my professional life, is that being independent suits me. It fits my personality, it fits who I am as a person, and it fits my schedule. Because at the end of the day, who cares what time of day you start to work at, or how long you’ve worked, as long as you get the results and the work is done?
It’s exciting to see more companies allow their employees to have a little bit more freedom, with more interesting ways to work remotely, or more flexible hours. And a lot more people going independent too. But it was during my last trip to Paris that I’ve come to realise how lucky I truly am to be independent, and how much I value this freedom.
I saw my friends overworked and overstressed working in these corporate offices and realised that no pay check could make me do what they do. I respect and admire what they do though, but being honest with myself, this life is not for me. I want my work to be a reflection of my life, and my life to be a reflection of my work. This will only happen if I put the strength and effort to make my clients happy, and succeeding with them.
It’s the job of our governments to ensure that we, the growing number of independent workers, continue to focus on our work without having to worry too much about the taxes we have to pay, or the legal hoops we sometimes have to jump through.
But in terms of a personal and professional balance, I wouldn’t give that freedom up, not right now, and not for anything.
To read more about my thoughts on Freelancing, you can get back to this article I’ve written back in June after my first year.