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Should you quit your job and go freelance?

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“The freelance revolution”, they’re calling it. People all over the western world (especially in Europe and US) are quitting their longstanding, once granted jobs to pursue new opportunities in the freelance scene. It certainly has to do with the past two years; 18 months in social distancing showed us that we are perfectly capable of carrying out our job even from home. Then why should we be bound to an employer? Why can’t we find our own clients?

Clearly this doesn’t work for everybody, especially if you’ve been spending the past two decades working as an office employer. The thought of giving up that sense of security may be frightening to you. But if you are reading this, it’s probably because you’ve been at least giving it a thought or two.

Should you quit your job to go freelance? Maybe – and here’s why.

Signs you should quit your job

You’re probably overly unsatisfied with your job. Maybe you’re bored, you’ve stopped learning, maybe you’re not growing anymore. Once we stop growing, once our opportunities to develop our own personal and professional skills feel exhausted, we all start looking elsewhere for ideas.

There are a few signs you should quit your job, and here at Creativepool we went over a few of those at the end of last year. It’s a wide topic that would require an entirely different article, but for now, we can summarise a few key points.

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Image credit: Csaba Molnár

At the root of it all is your desire to leave for better opportunities. You should first understand where that comes from. In my personal case, it’s always been about money to a certain extent – not because I don’t care about personal development or learning; in fact, I care about those first and foremost in any role. But London can be costly, and if you are just starting out, it’s hard to find a role that will enable you to earn a decent living in such an expensive town.

In a way, if your only reason is money, you’re lucky. A lot of people want to change because of that – it’s almost the simplest reason you could think of. Sadly, many others have way more serious reasons to go. You may be trapped in a toxic environment, one which doesn’t value you enough. Perhaps you even hate your boss. You never receive positive feedback, they’re only, constantly pointing out your flaws, and they encourage unhealthy competition within the team. That is no decent place to work.

There are many other reasons why you may want to leave your job. Perhaps you don’t feel passionate about your job anymore. Perhaps you’re bored to death, or you’re overwhelmed by your workload. Perhaps the sheer thought of signing into work on Monday mornings makes you sick. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you understand what is causing your desire to leave.

If the reason you want to leave your job is more independence, more freedom, or something to do with self-esteem and personal development… Then freelancing may indeed be the choice for you. Of course, if you don’t feel safe enough to do it, you could just find a creative job that is closer to your heart.

Why it makes sense to go freelance

Let me be clear right away: a lot of people make a full-time income out of freelancing. Some reach into the six figures, others are perfectly happy with a little less than that. There’s no denying it can be more difficult than having a permanent, full-time job – after all, in most of those cases you’ll have a stable income, regardless of what you do during the month. But that can be a double-edged sword.

Take a sample project, for instance. A client gets in touch with your agency to reposition their brand, and you are in charge of designing the visual identity. Most likely, that project does little to nothing in influencing the pay you’ll get at the end of the month. In an agency, your salary is your salary – it starts and ends there. You also don’t get to choose your clients, of course. As a freelancer, things are a bit different.

In the freelance scene, it is universally recognised that experienced graphic designers and art directors can earn at least £400 per day – some even more than that. Of course there are taxes to pay, but even if you take that 20% into account, you’re still left with about £320 net per day of work. In a busy month, you can see how easily your income can top and even surpass your full-time salary.

Additionally, once your business is established, you will have enough work that you can start being quite picky about the clients you choose. No more working just to make ends meet – you can choose to work with the organisations you support most, the people you like best and so on.

If you do work as a freelancer, especially having an in-house or agency background, you have the chance to develop your career freely and independently. You will learn at your own pace and you may miss being part of a team (though you could still work with teams occasionally), but the outcome in terms of personal and professional development will be huge. I still remember the day I got my very first, proper freelance assignment; that stuff boosts your self-esteem like very few employers will ever be able to do. To think that there’s someone out there willing to pay for your services, without having a company to back you up – it does wonders for your impostor syndrome.

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Image credit: Ricardo Einloft

That yearn for freedom

If there is one single important thing that the past two years have shown us, it is that we strive for our own freedom more than ever. We want more time, we need more time for ourselves and our beloved ones. We want to do the things that matter the most. If you feel stuck in a job that doesn’t make you feel fulfilled, if all things seem to be leading to a dead end… perhaps it’s time for a change.

Some of you may be thinking it is too late. That you’ve done your choice a long time ago, and now you must live with it. But I believe that, if you have the financial resources to retrain and relaunch your business, you should go for it. It’s never too late to find your true place. If you think you’re up for the challenge, go and do it later today, tomorrow, or next week. It will be tough, and there is no denying that it can be scary; but it will also be immensely rewarding.

Header image: Margaret Johnson

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