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Freelancers Work Harder

January 19, 2011

(Written and Illustrated by Thomas James)

Some people balk at the word “freelance”, as if it implies low quality work by lazy people in pajamas. In most cases, they couldn’t be more wrong.  

After spending a number of years building and running my own business, there’s one thing I know for sure:

Freelancers work harder.

As many of my fellow Illustrators can probably attest to, running your own business takes everything you have. The person is the business, and the business is the person. There is no separation between the two.

Every aspect of running a creative business, from accounting to promotion to production to client relations, is the sole responsibility of the lone freelancer, which means that it’s up to the individual to succeed or fail.

This is why many freelance Illustrators either spend long hours toiling away in their studio or throw in the towel and go back to punching time clocks. If you’re the type to stick it out, you probably work harder for more hours than your peers who work for someone else. What’s more, you probably sacrifice more of your personal life and leisure, which is something many people who don’t work for themselves fail to understand.

In fact, I’ll go even further by saying that most freelancers I know work harder than any boss I’ve ever had anywhere. Period.

Ownership of Pride

The benefit of this is that the freelancer owns every success, every milestone, and every moment of pride that comes with running a successful business. On the flip side, of course, they also own every failure, every weakness, and every loss.

This can make for a more stressful life, to be sure, but it also yields the satisfaction of a path less traveled, and a sense of identity that can never be achieved by working for someone else.

Here’s to all the freelancers out there who work their butts off every day.


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9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2011 4:09 AM

    Great post, Thomas; Based on my anecdotal experience, I’d tend to agree. Freelance doesn’t offer the ‘normalcy’ of routine that a steady employment job does. I think that other scenario trains many people to do only what’s expected of them in the allotted time. Why work harder or faster for the same pay. esp. when you’re looking around at the other employees and they’re not killing themselves, are they?

    All that being said, I think it also comes down to personality. Now that I’m a salaried employee and am seeing the alternative to freelancing up close and personal, I can say with confidence that some of my fellow instructors and I work like crazy, beyond expectations, because we love what we’re doing and want our students to succeed. Others are just biding their time ’til retirement. ;^)

    • January 19, 2011 6:36 AM

      That’s a great point, Leif. Whether you’re a freelancer or not, love of your work makes a huge difference when it comes to how much you dedicate yourself to it.

  2. January 19, 2011 5:56 AM

    Indeed! Freelancing becomes a 24/7 (28/7?) job. Although I’d still choose it over 9 to 5 any day. :) e

  3. January 19, 2011 6:23 AM

    well said…it’s definitely like working 24/7…

  4. January 19, 2011 7:33 AM

    Thanks for this shout-out straight-forward opinion! I knew I’m not the only one ;-)

    I agree 100%, also with Leif considering personality. You can’t work as a freelancer if you don’t live it entirely with all the pro’s and con’s. Beyond illustrating, „work“ includes all that stuff like promotion, staying in touch, cleaning your studio, anything else non-creative and can never be finished, hence the 24/7 perception.
    And right, we don’t count the days until our retirement because we want to work, we love to work, to do, to create something as long as we are able to. Anytime, anywhere, be it foolish to non-freelancers or not (but that doesn’t mean to ignore work-life-balance though).

    Btw, I wonder how many non-freelancers would consider the headline as a provocation…

  5. Kristine permalink
    January 19, 2011 11:27 AM

    Great post!

  6. January 20, 2011 1:34 PM

    I loved this post… It is so true… :D
    And as a freelance artist you tend to take on more projects from various genres which means you have to be prepared for anything and sometimes you tend to work on two projects at the same time… meaning time management is your friend.
    Freelancing is definitely not an easy job

  7. January 24, 2011 9:45 AM

    “Some people balk at the word “freelance”, as if it implies low quality work by lazy people in pajamas” – made me laugh. I often feel that people understand a word ‘freelancer’ as ‘someone who can meet anytime for a coffee during working hours’ or ‘someone who still looks for a REAL job’ :)))

    anyway, i can say proudly: i’m a freelancer. no plans to change it soon. although i fell it gives me more responsibility than freedom if to be honest.

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