A person who pursues an occupation without a long-term commitment to any particular employer.
Such a simple, straight-to-the-point answer ... but come on. We all know that being a freelancer isn't just about looking for short-term work. There's a whole lot of adventure down the freelancing road, a journey that only a true freelancer can endure and understand: battles against distraction, the hunt for unpaid invoices, saving the remote team from the wrath of procrastination, and achieving freelance success.
But the question still stands: What's a day like in the life of a freelancer? Let's have a look and see:
06:00 - 07:00
I stir, waking up to chirping birds and ongoing construction outside (not a good combination, trust me). Fumble with my smartphone till I see the screen clearly. Good, no messages.
07:30 - 08:15
Sit down to have my morning coffee, breakfast, and my daily RSS feeds. The doorbell rings, but I refuse to answer the front door. That pesky door-to-door cleaning supply salesman can't possibly know I'm home at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday!
To spread the work throughout the day, I take out my organizer and list all tasks to be done and how many hours to allot for each. I then note the overall estimate of hours for each of my three projects in order to balance everything out.
08:30 - 09:10
Clicking on my mail client, I wait till all the messages are pulled in, then slowly work my way from bottom up. I send progress reports to my three employers, enumerating finished tasks, as well as a short reminder about the next milestone payment. *crossing my fingers on this one*
09:30 - 11:20
Work begins. I attend a brief tele-conference meeting with my employer to discuss project updates, minor problems, and known issues. I take notes, balancing another cup of coffee with my pen and phone.
Once we wrap things up, we engage in a minute or two of small talk about the broken sewer pipes keeping the employer's in-house team away from the office -- guess everyone is working from home today!
Once we hang up, I work on each task, ticking off completed ones from my task management app. I then move on to the fixed price project and do the same.
11:30 - 11:50
Putting my work aside for about 10-20 minutes, I search for open job posts on oDesk. There are plenty to choose from, but I constantly remind myself to go for projects that have verified payment methods, good feedback, and that will utilize the best of my skills and abilities.
12:00 - 12:30
Lunch break! Feeling a need to socialize in between bites, I open my Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ accounts to see what's new and interesting. I share awesome stuff, respond to @mentions, and comment on Facebook posts before getting back to work. But before I go, I tweet to my followers to refer me if anyone is looking for a creative, trustworthy, and reliable freelance writer.
12:45 - 12:47
The phone rings. Someone of the HR department of a company calls to ask if I'm interested to apply for a full-time 9-to-5 position. I respond, "Thank you, but you'll have to look for someone else. I'm a freelancer now." Fist pump!
13:00 - 14:45
Working hard on my third project. It requires a keen eye for detail and a touch of passion. Energy levels are peaking, the creative juices are flowing like the Niagara, but all is lost when the phone rings once more.
This time it's my sister, asking if I'd like to come over to watch her try on two new outfits for her dinner date. As much as I'd love to watch and comment on how lovely they look on her, I politely decline and promise to go over tomorrow (gotta remember to put that down on my calendar).
15:15 - 16:00
I'm at my favorite coffee shop for a good dose of café mocha. I sit down in a comfy spot, pull out my laptop (can't live without it, really), and start brushing up my freelance skills through books and online courses.
Suddenly, a friend walks by and greets me with an unusual level of excitement. She asks, "Stef! How have you been? I thought you disappeared from the face of the earth! Were you able to get a new job?" I answer cheerily, "Yes, I'm a freelancer now." *awkward silence* (Somehow I thought she'd take this as good news, but it seems there are still people who think "freelance" is just code for "unemployed.")
After that rather short conversation, I decided finish off my coffe, stash my laptop, and head home.
16:30 - 16:45
I check my inbox once more to see if there are any urgent messages. Fortunately, I received an invitation for an interview from a potential employer in need of a writer for his team. Should I apply for it? Does the job fit my skill set? It sounds interesting, so I respond with a few more questions and hope for the best.
17:00 - 17:30
I tie up my good ol' running shoes and head out for a 15-30 minute jog. After being stuck in the house and in front of the computer for months, it's time to crank the machines and burn those calories.
18:30 - 19:00
Dinnertime. I make sure that all my tasks are complete and ready for the client as soon as he logs in to check. I put up the virtual "Closed" sign and spend the rest of my night with my family.
21:45 - 21:47
The husband catches me checking my work email on my smartphone. Oops!
I'd love to hear what your typical day as a freelancer is like. Is it more systematized than mine, or just as crazy and hectic? Share your stories in the comments!